Nikkei higher as investors shrug off weak Japanese data
|London | Wall Street | Asia|
Japanese shares traded higher on Friday as investors shrugged off a series of government data that showed a slowing Japanese economy.
In December, Japan's inflation rose 2.5% from a year earlier, below expectations and easing for a fifth consecutive month.
Factory output rose 1% from the previous month, below forecasts, while household spending fell more than expected, down 3.4% on a year ago.
The Nikkei closed up 0.4% at 17,674.39.
On the positive side, the availability of jobs in Japan rose to the highest level in more than two decades as the jobless rate fell to 3.4%, from 3.5% in November.
The dollar was at 117.82 yen, down from 118.34 yen in New York trade.
Shares in Takata took another hit, down 2.5% after Honda said that a driver was killed in the US last week in a 2002 Accord equipped with a Takata air bag that may have ruptured.
Shares of tech giant SoftBank fell 3.4% after Alibaba reported lower-than-expected revenues for the third quarter. SoftBank has a 32% stake in Alibaba.
Chinese markets traded down, with Hong Kong's Hang Seng index lower 0.1% at 24,568.99, while the Shanghai Composite was down 1.1% at 3,225.46.
Australian shares closed at a five-month high as investors bought banks amid growing speculation of an interest rate cut by the central bank next week.
The S&P/ASX 200 was up 0.3% to 5,588.3 - its highest since 5 September and marked the seventh consecutive day of gains.
The benchmark index was up 1.6% for the week and higher 3.3% for January.
In South Korea, shares ended lower despite data showing that factory output in December grew at its fastest pace in over five years from the previous month.
Output rose by a seasonally adjusted 3% in December, following a downwardly revised 1% rise in November.
The benchmark Kospi finished down 0.1% at 1,949.26.
Shares in South Korea's largest steelmaker POSCO plunged 7.7% after the company posted weaker-than-expected fourth quarter earnings on slowing demand from China.