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Asia Stocks Mixed; Shanghai, Nikkei Gain

Asian stock markets closed mixed on Monday, with technology shares getting a boost from Nasdaq's strong finish on Friday.

Japan's Nikkei 225 Average rose 0.4 percent to an eight-week closing high, buoyed by gains in high-tech stocks such as Advantest, while a firmer dollar against the yen lifted exporters.

The benchmark index climbed 41.42 points to 10,183.47, its highest finish since Oct. 27. But the broader Topix slipped 0.2 percent to 891.48.

Banks such as Mizuho Financial came under pressure, giving up some of the hefty gains they made last week, on worries that they are likely to issue new stocks to enhance capital linger.

High-tech shares advanced following gains in U.S. rivals late last week. Tokyo Electron, the world's No.2 semiconductor equipment maker, climbed 2.6 percent to 5,520 yen and chip-tester maker Advantest rose 2 percent to 2,235 yen. Electronics parts maker Kyocera added 0.25 percent to 7,890 yen.

Among exporters, Sony gained 1.1 percent and Sharp rose 1.65 percent but automakers such as Toyota finished in the red.

The dollar was steady against the yen in Asian trade, staying above the 90 yen level, as investors who sold the U.S. currency for most of this year were buying back before the year-end.

A fall in the yen tends to help exporter shares as it increases the value of overseas profits in yen terms when firms repatriate them to Japan.

Nishimatsuya Chain jumped 8 percent to 809 yen after the children's apparel retailer said it would buy back shares worth up to 200 million yen ($2.2 million).

Seoul shares closed 0.17 percent lower after choppy session, pressured by falls in banks such as KB Financial but gains in some techs such as LG Display lent support.

The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) finished down 2.81 points at 1,644.23 points.

Hyundai Motor rose 0.9 percent afterslipping earlier on news of its China joint venture agreement on Sunday.

Australian stocks edged down 0.3 percent, driven down by banks in a light trading session, but top airline Qantas Airways jumped after flagging a return to profit.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index shed 15.39 points to 4,635.13, after rising almost 1 percent earlier in the day.

New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index dipped 0.1 percent to 3149.8.

Banking shares were mostly lower after leading a near 47 percent rise in the benchmark share index from a five-year low reached in early March. ANZ lost 1.8 percent while CBA fell 1.3 percent.

Qantas jumped 5.1 percent to A$2.88, marking its biggest one-day rise since June. The airline said operating conditions had improved, and it would post a pre-tax first-half profit of
A$50-150 million.

Virgin Blue, the country's second-biggest airline, added 0.9 percent to A$0.56.

Developer Lend Lease rose 1.3 percent to A$9.42 after it won the right to carry out the first stage of a A$6 billion ($5.3 billion) facelift planned for Sydney's waterfront.

Among mining stocks, BHP Billiton pared earlier gains to finish up 0.8 percent while Rio Tinto erased gains to close 0.7 percent lower.

Hong Kong shares lost 1.1 percent, extending the market's losing streak into a fourth session, with banks remaining weak over their exposure to debt in Dubai.

Index heavyweight HSBC was down 1.3 percent and Standard Chartered was off 0.6 percent, with brokers expressing concern that banks may eventually need to make provisions against their Dubai exposure.

The Hang Seng Index shed 1.1 percent while the Shanghai Composite gained 0.3 percent.

The Taiwan Weighted ended 0.4 percent higher, led by AU Optronics on hopes that the island's top LCD maker could build a panel factory in China soon following trade talks with Beijing this week.

Southeast Asian markets were both in negative territory with the Straits Times down 0.3 percent and the KL Composite was flat.

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