Asian stocks closed mixed Monday, as investors shrugged off a rash of weak economic indicators to keep most markets afloat. Japan and South Korea closed just a touch higher, which the Hong Kong market fell.
Investors, glued to screens for signs of a U.S. recession that could infect the global economy, saw more evidence that growth in the world's largest economy was slipping.
The Reuters/University of Michigan index of consumer sentiment sent a shiver through the U.S. market as it dropped in February to a level associated with past recessions. And manufacturing in New York contracted this month for the first time in almost three years.
Japan's Nikkei 225 Average ended nearly flat in a market where short-covering waned and prices were buoyed by reassurance from better-than-expected U.S. and Japanese economic indicators last week. Toshiba jumped after a company source told Reuters at the weekend that it planned to abandon its HD DVD format for high-definition video, leaving the field to Sony's rival Blu-ray system.