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Asian shares higher as Japan dissolves parliament

Asian indices finished mostly higher Friday, after Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe dissolved parliament's lower house, setting the stage for an election in which he will seek a fresh mandate to continue his economic policies - dubbed "Abenomics."

U.S. stocks closed higher overnight after encouraging data alleviated concerns over continued signs of slowing growth in Europe and China. The Philly Fed Index came in at 40.8 for November, more than double the expected 18.3 and the highest since December 1993. Existing home sales hit 5.26 million and leading indicators gained 0.9 percent, both beating expectations for October.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended the day at a record high for the 27th time this year, while the S&P 500 notched up 0.2 percent to close at a record high for the 44th time. The tech-heavy Nasdaq ended up 0.6 percent.

Symbol
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Price
 
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NIKKEI
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HSI
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ASX 200
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SHANGHAI
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KOSPI
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CNBC 100
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Tokyo rises 0.3%

Japanese equities reversed early losses to finish in positive territory on Friday, as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe dissolves the lower house of parliament in preparation for next month's snap elections. Sentiment had been cautious ahead of a holiday next Monday and as dollar-yen retreated back into the 117 zone.

Index heavyweights Fast Retailing and Softbank turned positive in the afternoon session to close up 0.6 percent, respectively. Exporters such as Nissan and Suzuki Motor remained downbeat due to a stronger currency, retreating 1.1 and 0.3 percent each.

Auto parts maker Takata was in focus as the firm's executives faced a U.S. Senate hearing on Thursday for its defective air bags which have been linked to at least 5 deaths. Its shares appeared unaffected to trade more than 9 percent higher.

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Mainland shares higher

China's Shanghai Composite index and Hong Kong's Hang Seng index made inroads into positive territory on Friday, notching up 1.4 and 0.4 respectively, after seeing lackluster trade since the inception of the Shanghai-Hong Kong stock connect on Monday.

Chinese financials were higher; Haitong Securities and Founder Securities rose above 8 and 6 percent each.

For the past week, Chinese investors have shown little appetite for Hong Kong-listed stocks, while international flows into the mainland have slowed significantly since the first day of trading. But analysts remain upbeat about the "through train" program.

"It was a classic 'sell on the high.' Markets got pushed up [ahead of the stock connect] and people essentially sold into the launch," John Woods, MD, Head of Fixed Income & Senior Portfolio Manager at Citi Investment Management, told CNBC's "Asia Squawk Box." "I'm still pretty positive on the medium term liquidity. This is going to be a huge market but [in the] short term, there'll be a lot of profit taking."

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Sydney drops 0.2%

Australian shares ceded early gains to finish the week at near a five-week low. The benchmark S&P ASX 200 index has erased this year's gains to trade 0.8 percent lower year-to-date.

While iron ore prices recovered overnight, miners traded mixed. Fortescue Metals and BC Iron advanced nearly 2 percent each but BHP Billiton crept down 0.3 percent.

Losses in the banking sector also weighed on the bourse; Westpac and Macquarie Group lost 0.9 and 0.6 percent each.

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Seoul up 0.4%

South Korean stocks clawed back most of Thursday's losses as the South Korean won bounced back from a 15-month low on the last trading session of the week. The currency - last quoted at 1,112 against the greenback - recouped losses after Japan's Finance Minister Taro Aso expressed concerns about the yen's rapid fall this week.

Blue-chip majors were mostly higher; Samsung Electronics rose 1.1 percent while Posco made gains of 1.5 percent.