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Asian Shares Slump After Japan Deficit Data, As Investors Fret About Economy

Asian stocks slumped after Japan's trade deficit reached a record and investors continue to worry about a global economic slowdown.

Japan's annual trade deficit unexpectedly hit a record 11.5 trillion yen ($113 billion), almost double the previous year's 6.9 trillion yen. Imports rose 25% in December from a year earlier and exports gained 15%, leaving a monthly deficit of 1.3 trillion yen.

The yen also strengthened to a seven-week high against the US dollar as investors sought a safe-haven amid worries over the global economy after weak manufacturing data from China last week. That put pressure on Japanese stocks.

The Federal Reserve also meets for two days, starting Tuesday, and investors expect a further reduction in the Fed's bond buying program.

Solar stocks like JinkoSolar ( JKS ) remain under pressure. On Friday, China set a lower-than-expected target for installed solar-energy capacity this year. China said it will maintain its solar power target this year, planning to install 10GW again. China had a record year in 2013, installing 12GW, reports Bloomberg. The Street consensus was 12GW.

In ADR news, Tata Motors ( TTM ) managing director Karl Slym died in Thailand, and police suspect suicide.

Australia's stock market was closed for a holiday.

The Nikkei ended down 2.51% at 15,005.73, the Hang Seng down 2.11% at 21,976.10 ans Shanghai down 1.03% at 2,033.30.

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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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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