Asian markets mostly rise amid light trade

Asian bourses largely rose amid thin post-Christmas trading, as markets in Australia, Hong Kong, Indonesia and the Philippines remain shut. With Wall Street closed for the holiday season as well, attention was on a flurry of monthly indicators released by Japan ahead of trade opening.

For the month of November, Japan's industrial output posted a surprise drop, while inflation continued to slow, offering fresh signs that efforts to resuscitate the country's stalled economy aren't proceeding smoothly.

Manufacturing fell 0.6 percent on-month in November, compared with a Reuters poll forecasting a 0.8 percent rise and October's 0.4 percent rise. Meanwhile, core inflation, which includes energy but not fresh food, rose 2.7 percent on-year in November, in line with expectations from a Reuters poll, but marked the fourth straight month of declines.

Once the effects of an April sales tax hike are stripped out, core inflation was 0.7 percent in the month, slowing from October's 0.9 percent and well below the 2 percent inflation target set by the Bank of Japan (BOJ).

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Nikkei flat

Japanese shares closed up marginally late Friday, overcoming sluggishness in the morning session after the release of mixed data. However the yen, which traded little moved against the greenback, limited gains. For the holiday-shortened week, both the benchmark Nikkei 225 index and the broader Topix index gained 0.8 percent.

Large-caps and exporters were mixed; Toyota Motor moved up 1.1 percent while Canon and Honda finished 2.5 and 1.1 percent lower. Fast Retailing, owner of clothes brand Uniqlo, lost 0.4 percent while robot maker Fanuc notched up 0.4 percent.

Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group rose 0.7 percent, after one of its units, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking (SMBC), announced that it would be buying Citigroup's Japanese retail banking business for about 40 billion yen ($333 million) on Thursday.

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Kospi adds 0.1%

South Korea's Kospi index edged up to a two-and-half-week high, after being shut on Thursday for the Christmas holiday, while the junior Kosdaq index lost early gains to slip 0.3 percent.

Energy plays threw away early gains despite oil prices moving up in Asian trade after news that a rocket hit a storage tank at Libya's biggest oil port. S-Oil and SK Innovation lost 0.2 and 0.3 percent each.

Meanwhile, the won firmed against the greenback to trade at 1,097 late Friday.

Rest of Asia

China's Shanghai Composite index jumped nearly 3 percent on Friday, with brokerages leading gains after authorities further eased liquidity conditions for banks. A local media report said that the Chinese central bank is planning to include inter-bank lending by non-bank financial institutions as a part of the calculated deposit base.

Hence, Citic Securities rose the maximum allowable of 10 percent while Haitong Securities and Founder Securities piled on 9.9 percent each.

The stock market in Hong Kong is closed for Christmas and will reopen for trade on December 29.

In Southeast Asia, Malaysia's benchmark FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI index surged to a two-week high on the back of rallying banking shares. Among gainers, Hong Leong Financial Group bolstered nearly 1 percent.

Underperforming the region, Singapore's Straits Times index traded flat while Thailand's SET index fell 0.6 percent ahead of the central bank's latest economic review.