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Nikkei rises in late-afternoon trade, as Japan September exports fall less than forecast

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Markets in Asia were mixed on Monday, as Japanese shares rose slightly in late afternoon trade, after an initially muted reaction to data that showed the country's exports fell less than expected in September, despite a relatively stronger yen.

The benchmark closed up 49.83 points, or 0.29 percent, at 17,234.42. The Japanese yen strengthened from levels near 103.90 before the release to a session high of 103.78. As of 2:11 p.m. HK/SIN, the dollar/yen traded at 103.89.

Government data showed September exports fell 6.9 percent on-year, shallower than a Reuters forecast for a 10.4 percent drop. Export volume was up 4.7 percent in the year to September, while imports fell 16.3 percent on-year, in line with market expectations, reported Reuters.

Other data were more positive, with Japan's preliminary Markit/Nikkei October manufacturing purchasing managers index (PMI) rising to 51.7 from 50.4 in September, the fastest expansion in nine months, Reuters reported. Readings over 50 indicate expansion, while levels below indicate contraction.

Across the Korean Strait, the Kospi closed up 14.74 points, or 0.73 percent, at 2,047.74. In Hong Kong, the was up 0.91 percent in late-afternoon trade. Chinese mainland shares were also positive, with the composite climbing 37.46 points, or 1.21 percent, to 3,128.40, while the Shenzhen composite rose 17.64 points, or 0.86 percent, to 2,070.20.

Major indexes in the Philippines and Vietnam traded lower in late-afternoon trade.

Australia's ASX 200 closed down 21.81 points, or 0.40 percent, at 5,408.50, with most sectors finishing lower. The heavily-weighted financial sector finished flat.

Shares of Australia's so-called Big Four banks were mixed, with ANZ up 0.28 percent, retracing its 0.3 percent early loss; Commonwealth Bank of Australia was 0.31 percent lower, while Westpac erased slight losses to close up 0.46 percent. National Australia Bank was down 0.40 percent.

Asia-Pacific Market Indexes Chart

In the currency market, the traded above the 98 handle against a basket of currencies. The dollar index was at 98.723 as of 2:20 p.m. HK/SIN, climbing from levels near 97.600 in the previous week.

Analysts at Singapore's DBS Bank said in a morning note that gross domestic product data due stateside this week will be important in "reaffirming expectations for a Fed hike at the Federal Open Market Committee's meeting [in December]."

Elsewhere, the Australian dollar climbed to $0.7623, from a session low of $0.7588, while the euro was at $1.0877. The weakened against the dollar to levels not seen since 2010, trading at 6.7732.

Shares of Samsung Electronics closed up 1.20 percent, ahead of its third quarter earnings due Thursday, following the Galaxy Note 7 debacle that forced the South Korean tech giant to revise profit guidance to incorporate hits to its profit numbers.

Nintendo, which unveiled its new upcoming gaming console, Nintendo Switch, last week, dropped 4.82 percent, after tumbling over 6 percent on Friday as investors were left unimpressed with the new offering. The company was also set to announce its earnings this week.

Troubled South Korean shipping company Hanjin Shipping will close all 10 of its European business operations, according to a Wall Street Journal report. In late August, the shipping line was forced to file for court receivership after banks stopped providing financial support.

Hanjin shares tumbled 11.84 percent.

Oil prices were under pressure during Asian hours. U.S. crude futures traded down 0.16 percent at $50.77 a barrel at 3:17 p.m. HK/SIN, after falling to an earlier low of $50.41. Global benchmark Brent was down 0.06 percent at $51.75, climbing from levels as low as $51.37 earlier in the session.

That sent many energy plays in the region lower; Santos shares closed down 2.86 percent, Oil Search dropped 1.97 percent and Woodside Petroleum was off by 1.06 percent. Japan's Inpex fell 1.46 percent, while Japan Petroleum was lower by 2.28 percent.

Hong Kong-listed shares of CNOOC were up 0.94 percent, Petrochina was higher by 3.07 percent and Sinopec advanced 2.76 percent.

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