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Asian Markets Are Mixed, Australia Sheds 1%

Asian markets were mixed Friday following a pullback in oil prices. A stronger U.S. dollar lifted some exporters in the region. Japan managed to close slightly higher but Australia shed 1 percent, weighed down by declining resource stocks.

Data showing that U.S. weekly jobless claims unexpectedly fell by 9,000 to the lowest level in a month also helped improve sentiment. A stronger U.S. dollar is also supporting exporters such as Canon.

But resource-related shares such as Inpex Holdings and Nippon Oil fell about 3 percent after oil prices pulled back sharply from a record above $135 a barrel on Thursday as dealers took profits and as a recovering U.S. dollar dampened commodities markets.

Tokyo's Nikkei 225 Average finished 0.2 percent higher led up by exporters such as Kyocera on a softer yen, while Chugai Pharmaceutical gained after partner Roche Holding said it would increase its stake in the Japanese drug maker. Konica Minolta Holdings jumped more than 4 percent after it said on Thursday it planned to spend up to 10 billion yen ($96 million) to build a new production facility for high-tech film used to make LCD panels in 2009.

Seoul shares closed lower, with losses by techs and airliners such as Korean Air, on high energy prices and inflation worries outweighing gains by trading firms and brokerages. The KOSPI was down for a fifth consecutive session and making its losses on the week 3 percent. It is also 3.8 percent on year.

Australian shares fell 1 percent, weighed down by losses in resource firms such as Woodside Petroleum and Newcrest Mining on weaker oil and metals prices.

Hong Kong stocks were lower, but most Chinese telecom shares jumped on hopes that Beijing has embarked on a long-awaited sector restructuring following news that China Mobile's parent will take over unlisted China Railcom. China Mobile group, the world's biggest wireless carrier, would also take in a clutch of executives from smaller rivals, including the chairman of China Netcom, the smaller of the country's two fixed-line carriers, who would become party boss of the group, Xinhua News Agency said on Friday.

Singapore's Straits Times Index also closed lower. Financial counters such as DBS Group were rebounding after three sessions of losses.

China's Shanghai CompositeIndexpared back losses to close nearly flat. The SCI was down almost 1 percent in the morning session. China Unicom surged on hopes that a long-awaited telecoms restructuring was imminent. PetroChina, the most heavily weighted stock, rose after it said it would pay a 2007 dividend of 1.5686 yuan per 10 shares. The company's shares have been volatile in recent sessions as rumors swirled of possible government moves to aid China's refiners, which have been squeezed between rising crude oil prices and fixed state-set fuel prices.

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