Asia Ends Higher on China Trade Data
Asian shares edged up on Friday after China's trade data for January beat forecasts to underscore a recovery trend, but prices were capped by investors seeking to book profits before next week's Chinese New Year holidays.
China said its exports grew 25 percent in January from a year ago, the strongest showing since April 2011 and well ahead of market expectations for a 17 percent rise, while imports also beat forecasts, surging 28.8 percent on the year.
(Read More: Exactly How Skewed Is China's Trade Data?)
Japan's Nikkei share average dropped to mark its first weekly loss in 13 weeks as sentiment was dented by gloomy comments from the ECB president on Europe's outlook.
Sony Corp led the falls after profits in the October-December quarter missed market expectations.
(Read More: Sony Dives Over 6% After Earnings Disappoint)
The Nikkei fell 1.8 percent to 11,153.16, closing down 0.3 percent on the week to break its longest weekly winning streak in 54 years. It also backed further away from a 33-month high of 11,498.42 struck on Wednesday. The broader Topix lost 1.2 percent to 957.35.
Seoul shares climbed on, snapping a six-day losing streak after strong data from China underscored a recovery.
The KOSPI Index closed up 1 percent at 1,950.90 points, rebounding from a 10-week low hit on Thursday.
Hyundai Motor shares rallied to 4.8 percent, the sharpest one-day rise since September.
Australian shares rose 0.7 percent to a 34-month high, led by financial and mining stocks.
Banks all rose, headed by a 2.2 percent jump by Australia and New Zealand Banking Group to a 5-year high.
The S&P/ASX 200 index finished the day 35.6 points higher at 4,971.3, its highest close since April 16, 2010. The benchmark index jumped 1 percent for the week.
China shares rose in choppy trade ahead of the week-long Lunar New Year holiday, buoying slim Hong Kong gains, lifted by strength in the auto sector.
SAIC Motor jumped over 7 percent in Shanghai after data showed China's vehicle sales in January jumped 46.4 percent from a year earlier, the strongest pace of growth in almost three years largely due to a low base effect from last year.
The benchmark Shanghai Composite closed up 0.6 percent on Friday.
Hong Kong shares inched higher with Chinese automakers strong after positive January sales data, but they still posted their worst week since November ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday.
The Hang Seng Index closed up 0.2 percent on the day but down 2.1 percent on the week at 23,215.16. The China Enterprises Index of the top Chinese listings in Hong Kong shed 0.3 percent on the day and 4.6 percent this week.
The benchmark Index's loss this week was its worst in about three months.
Chinese automakers rose after data showed China's vehicle sales in January jumped 46.4 percent from a year earlier, the strongest pace of growth in almost three years largely due to a low base effect from last year.
Chinese shippers rose after China's exports and imports surged in January as the first hard data of the year pointed to robust domestic demand and a pick-up in the economy not solely explained by the timing of the Lunar New Year holiday.
(Read More: China's Next Big Bailout May Target Shippers)
Chinese markets are closed next week for the Lunar New Year holiday, while Hong Kong will resume trading on Thursday. Beijing is expected to post money supply and loan growth data anytime next week.
Indian shares fell for a seventh consecutive session to the lowest close this year as Mahindra & Mahindra as well as cement makers such as Ambuja and ACC retreated after earnings missed estimates.
Mahindra and Mahindra shares fell 1.3 percent, Ambuja Cements dropped 5.5 percent, while ACC lost 3.7 percent.
The BSE index provisionally fell 0.58 percent, falling to its lowest close since Dec. 31, 2012. The seven-session losing streak was the longest since the falls seen in November 2011. The 50-share NSE index ended down 0.59 percent.