Japan's Nikkei leads Asian market lower

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Asian shares were mostly lower after data from the region's leaders, China and Japan, indicated weaker growth.

A Japanese survey showed its manufacturers were less optimistic between October and December and expected conditions to deteriorate.

Consumer confidence also fell in November for the fourth consecutive month, with the index at its lowest level since April.

Meanwhile, China's inflation eased to a five-year low, below expectations.

That led Japan's Nikkei 225 to close down 2.3% to 17,412.58 - its lowest finish in almost two weeks.

The dollar slipped to 118.88 yen in afternoon trade, down from 119.63 yen in New York.

Bucking the trend were shares of budget airline Skymark, which surged more than 17% after reports that it plans to seek help from All Nippon Airways (ANA) while in talks for an alliance with ANA's rival, Japan Airlines.

China reverses losses

In China, investors shrugged off the latest inflation data as shares headed higher.

The Shanghai Composite rallied nearly 3% to 2,940 points, while the smaller Shenzhen bourse rose 3.5% to 2,941 points.

Further south, Hong Kong's Hang Seng index closed up 0.16% at 23,524.52 points.

Shares of China's largest nuclear power producer, CGN Power, jumped more than 24% in its Hong Kong trading debut as investors bet on a government-backed sector set for growth.

In Australia, shares were lower after a private survey showed that consumer sentiment fell sharply in December, wiping out two months of gains.

The Melbourne Institute and Westpac Bank index dived a seasonally adjusted 5.7% in December from a 1.9% rise in November.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 closed down 0.5% at 5,259.

South Korean shares fell to a three-week low, despite government data showing that its unemployment rate inched lower in November, with new jobs created in the services and manufacturing sectors.

The jobless rate last month stood at 3.1%, down from October's 3.2%.

The benchmark Kospi index closed down 1.3% at 1,945.56 points.

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