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Asian shares mixed with Nikkei easing in morning trade

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Shutterstock photo - - Stocks in Japan fell in the morning session on Friday with trading mixed across the rest of Asia as the week comes to a close ahead of key data from China at the weekend.

The Nikkei 225 fell 0.55% after the country's internal affair ministry said household spending fell 4.6% from a year earlier in April, a result expected after Japan raised its nationwide sales to 8% from 5% on April 1.

In Sydney, the S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.2% led lower by miner shares after spot iron ore prices hit a fresh 20-month low. Fortescue Metals Group Ltd (ASX:FMG) fell 2.1% and BC Iron Ltd (ASX:BCI). shed 2.9%.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index rose 0.23% and the Shanghai Composite was flat.

Investors are looking ahead to Chinese economic data slated for release over the weekend, including China's official manufacturing purchasing managers index with expectations at 50.6 from 50.4 last month..

Overnight, U.S. stocks blew off a dismal U.S. first-quarter report on gross domestic product and rose amid sentiments more upbeat growth figures are just around the corner.

The Dow 30 rose 0.39%, the S&P 500 index rose 0.54%, while the NASDAQ Composite Composite index rose 0.54% as well.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis revealed earlier that the U.S. gross domestic product contracted 1.0% in the first quarter, after a preliminary estimate showed growth of 0.1%.

Market expectations had been for a 0.5% contraction. It was the first decline in U.S. GDP since the first quarter of 2011, though stocks shrugged off the news, dismissing the weak figure as no surprise due to rough winter weather.

The data also reminded investors that even when the Federal Reserve winds down stimulus programs, rate hikes won't come for some time afterwards.

The report also contained positive data.

Consumer spending, which drives more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity, increased by 3.1%, up from the preliminary estimate of 3.0%.

Elsewhere, the National Association of Realtors reported that its pending home sales index rose 0.4% in April, missing expectations for a 1% gain.

Separately, the Department of Labor said the number of individuals filing for unemployment assistance in the U.S. last week fell by 27,000 to 300,000, exceeding expectations for a decline of 9,000.

On Friday, the U.S. is to round up the week with a report on personal income and expenditure as well as revised data from the University of Michigan on consumer sentiment. offers an extensive set of professional tools for the financial markets.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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