Asian Stocks Close Mixed, Japan Rises

Asian share markets were mixed with Japanese stocks rising after the inflation figures, South Korean shares reached a six-month closing high on positive export data and Indian stocks hit a record, but shares in Australia and Hong Kong fell.

Oil slipped nearly three-quarters of a percent, as profit-taking took the steam out of a four-session rally driven by a fall in U.S. winter fuel stocks that had pushed prices to a two-month high above $63 a barrel.

The euro notched up another record high against the yen, as Japanese data showed a rise in core consumer prices unexpectedly slowed in October to just 0.1 percent from a year ago, raising doubts about how soon the Bank of Japan can lift interest rates.

"The slow rise in the CPI is an argument against an interest rate hike by the Bank of Japan," said Takumi Tsunoda, an economist at Shinkin Central Bank Research Institute.

Meanwhile, expectations of an interest rate cut by the Federal Reserve were bolstered after U.S. data on Thursday showed business activity in the Midwest region contracting for the first time in three-and-a-half years.

Rate-Sensitive Stocks

Tokyo's Nikkei rose 0.3 percent, as the tame inflation data helped boost rate-sensitive stocks such as property developer Mitsubishi Estate Co. Ltd.

"If the CPI was too weak it would been taken as a sign of a slowing economy, and the number came in at just about a good level," said Yasuo Yabe, director of sales at Meiwa Securities.

MSCI's broadest index of shares elsewhere in Asia was little changed at 0605 GMT.

Seoul's benchmark index edged up 0.2 percent after data showing record monthly exports reinforced confidence about global demand for South Korean products, supporting major exporters such as Samsung Electronics.

Australia's S&P ASX 200 fell 1 percent as banking stocks were sold, but shares in takeover target Qantas Airways Ltd. rose 2.2 percent after it raised its profit outlook for the second time this year.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng slipped 0.2 percent by midsession, with PCCW Ltd. falling 4 percent a day after shareholders rejected a plan to sell a stake in the phone company.

Singapore's Straits Times was up 0.1 percent at the lunch break, while Taiwan's benchmark index finished 0.6 percent higher.