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Asian Markets Struggle to Hold Ground

Asian markets were mixed Tuesday as stocks struggled after a slide the previous day, while the yen held gains against higher-yielding currencies as investors doubt the speed of the global economy's recovery.

A bleak U.S. jobs report last week has prompted portfolio managers to reassess how quickly economies around the world can return to growth after the deep recession, spurring a pull-back in shares and currencies such as the Australian dollar.

The yen held near a five-week peak against sterling and the New Zealand dollar as market players have cut holdings of currencies that have surged along with stocks. The dollar was mostly steady and has held its ground in the past few weeks as riskier assets have stumbled, with the U.S. currency favored as a safe haven when market players strike a cautious footing. Crude oil prices edged over $64 a barrel, but still hovered near a five-week low.

Japan's Nikkei 225 Average closed down 0.3 percent, with exporters hurt by a stronger yen, while Isuzu Motors skidded after a report that Toyota Motor has decided to scrap plans to develop diesel engineswith its fellow carmaker.

South Korea's KOSPI ended 0.3 percent higher as upward momentum on positive earnings expectations continued, with robust gains by key tech and auto blue chips including LG
Electronics
and Hyundai Motor.

Australian shares fell 0.4 percent to a fresh five-week closing low as weaker base metal prices pressured miners, but defensive stocks such as Telstra rose as investors chased steady income earners.

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Hong Kong shares fell 0.7 percent as investors bought selectively, even as the lack of conviction in a global economic recovery kept turnover thin. China Unicom, the country's second-largest wireless service provider, rose 2.4 percent on speculation it was close to signing a deal to launch Apple's popular iPhone handset in China. Cathay Pacific jumped 6.2 percent after JP Morgan raised its rating on the stock to "overweight" from "underweight" on expectations that the airline's earnings outlook will become more positive.

Singapore's Straits Times Index gained 0.3 percent, while China's Shanghai Composite Index fell 1.1 percent, stalling after the SCI set a new 13-month closing high for a fourth consecutive session in hectic trade on Monday.