Japanese shares shrug off negative data

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Sydney All Ordinaries Index

Last Updated at 20 Mar 2018, 05:17 GMT *Chart shows local time ASX All Ords intraday chart
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Japan's credit rating has been downgraded because of its huge debt. Fitch Ratings has lowered it from A-plus to A which is five notches below the top rating. Image copyright Getty Images

Japanese shares ended higher on Tuesday despite negative retail sales data and a cut to the country's credit rating.

The Nikkei 225 index closed up 0.4% to 20,058.95 as investors shrugged off news that retail sales fell at the fastest pace in 17 years in March.

Retail sales for the world's third largest economy fell 9.7% from a year earlier.

Meanwhile, US ratings agency Fitch downgraded Japan's credit rating to A, five notches below the top rating.

Fitch said the government had failed to offset the impact of a delay in a sales tax hike with measures to address the deficit.

Japan's debt is the biggest among developed nations and more than twice the size of its economy.

In China, the Hong Kong's Hang Seng index ended flat at 28,442.75, while the Shanghai Composite fell 1.1% to 4,476.21 - leading the region's losses.

Shares of oil giants PetroChina and Sinopec fell around 5% after they dismissed speculation that they would merge.

Iron ore jump

In Australia, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 closed down 0.6% at 5,948.5 despite rising iron ore prices.

The price of iron ore, which is Australia's most important export commodity, rose to its highest level since March on Tuesday to $59.09 (£38.81) a tonne.

Analysts said the price rise could give a boost to shares, but that the resistance to the benchmark breaking the 6,000 mark was "incredibly strong".

"The ASX has tested this point five times this year," said Evan Lucas from IG Markets in Australia, "[but] each time it has considered touching 6,000, it has failed."

Meanwhile, South Korea's benchmark Kospi index closed down 0.5% to 2,147.67.

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