Asian shares mixed on Chinese data

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Asian markets experienced mixed fortunes after two contrasting pieces of economic data emerged from China.

China's industrial output grew by a less-than-expected 7.2% in November from a year ago, but retail sales rose 11.7%, beating forecasts.

Fixed-asset investment, an important economic driver, grew 15.8% in the first 11 months of the year, in line with expectations.

The data seemed to have little impact on Chinese shares which traded flat.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index closed 0.3% lower at 23,249.20 points, while on the mainland, the Shanghai Composite rose 0.4% to 2,938.17.

Eye on elections

In Japan, the benchmark Nikkei 225 closed up 0.7% at 17,371.58 after losing nearly 4% in the previous three days.

The dollar was at 119.55 yen in afternoon trade compared with 118.65 yen in the New York session.

Investors are also keeping a close eye on elections this weekend as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe seeks a mandate to delay another increase to the country's sales tax.

Shares of Canon surged as much as 4.1%, to their highest since May 2013, after an upward revision to its year-end dividend forecast. It closed up 3.9%.

Australia's market fell with shares in mining companies being hit after iron ore prices fell to their lowest level in more than five years.

Benchmark 62% grade iron ore for immediate delivery to China's Tianjin port fell to $68.80 a tonne on Thursday, just a touch off a five-and-a-half year low of $68 reached in November.

The S&P/ASX 200 closed down 0.2% at 5,219.60 - marking its fourth consecutive session of declines.

It was the market's worst weekly performance in three weeks, falling 2.2%.

In South Korea, the benchmark Kospi index ended up 0.3% at 1,921.71.

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