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Asian Stocks Set for Best Week in 2 Months

Asian stocks were mixed on Friday. Still, markets are set to finish their best week in two months as investors scooped up bargains amid signs that heavy selling of the past few weeks was drawing to a close.

Japan's Nikkei stock average closed out the week higher, holding on to gains after hitting a 9-1/2-month high the day before, but most investors were moving to the sidelines ahead of a long weekend in the United States.

U.S. markets will be closed on Monday for George Washington's birthday.

The Nikkei gained 0.06 percent.The broader Topix index was 0.06 percent lower.

Energy and commodities stocks, such as Japan's biggest oil ad gas developer, Inpex, outperformed again as the Middle East turmoil sent oil higher along with safe-haven currencies such as the Swiss Franc. Inpex gained 0.5 percent to 582,000 yen.

Heiwa Real Estate extended losses and closed down 5.7 percent at 249 yen after it said it plans to raise 13.4 billion yen ($1.6 million) through a new share issue. That will include a third-party allocation to Mitsubishi Estate, which said on Thursday it would raise its stake in Heiwa Real Estate to about 10 percent.

Shares in electronics maker JVC Kenwood climbed 5.8 percent, after the firm's CEO told Reuters it hopes to lift a warning about its viability as a going concern at the end of the current financial year in March.

Separately, the company has asked its top shareholder Panasonic not to offload its stake in it for the time being and believes it has gained Panasonic's understanding, its head said.

Circle K Sunkus rose 3.9 percent to 1,411 yen after the operator of convenience store chain raised its operating profit forecast by 14.2 percent to 18.1 billion yen for the year ending in February, thanks to price rises for cigarettes and to strong sales of "obento" boxed meals.

Seoul shares snapped a three-session losing streak on Friday, lifted by a rally in shipbuilders including Daewoo Shipbuilding on order expectations.

The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) finished up 1.82 percent at 2,013.14 points, nearing its 20-day moving average of 2,037.04 points after falling nearly 2 percent in the past three sessions.

Shares in South Korean shipbuilders jumped after sharp falls on Thursday and following news Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering had won a $2 billion order from A.P. Moeller-Maersk to build 10 container ships.

Shares in Samsung Heavy Industries rallied 6.3 percent on trading volume of around 2.1 million shares, compared with daily average trading volume of around 3 million shares this week. Hyundai Heavy Industries, the world's biggest shipbuilder, advanced 2.7 percent.

Australian shares ended little changed on Friday as investors paused after a strong run that
lifted the market for four straight weeks on the back of a global equity rally, despite mixed local earnings announcements.

The S&P/ASX 200 closed the session down 0.04 percent while ANZ Bank fell as it failed to outperform expectations like its rivals.

ANZ Group, Australia's fourth largest lender, reported profits in line with expectations but credit growth was weak. Its shares fell 2.1 percent on opening before extending losses to last trade down 2.8 percent to A$24.94.

Weaker metal prices weighed on miners, with global heavyweights BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto both falling.

Macarthur Coal fell 1.28 percent after it cut its full year production forecast in the wake of last month's flooding in Queensland.

Clothing firm Billabong rallied over 6 percent despite posting a weaker first half profit, as it predicted strong growth in full year revenues.

Shares in building products firm James Hardie Industries recovered to close up 0.9 percent. It earlier slumped 4.1 percent after the company reported a fall in third quarter profit and cut its full year forecast on weakness in its key U.S. market.

In China, the Shanghai Composite lost 0.9 percent, weighed by tight liquidity conditions as investors start to withdraw some funds from the stock market in preparation for Sinopec's bond issue. Sinopec says it plans to sell 23 billion yuan ($3.5 billion) worth of convertible bonds Wednesday, in what will be the largest convertible bond issuance in the Asia-Pacific region since late August.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 1 percent.

Singapore stocks paring back gains, up 0.5 percent ahead of the government's budget due later in the afternoon.

Singapore Exchange chief executive said on Friday he sees other targets for mergers if its proposed $7.9 billion takeover of Australian bourse operator ASXfails. Shares in Singapore Exchangerose 0.6 percent.

Shares of Wilmar International rose as much as 3.4 percent on news that China may cut import taxes on a range of food products including edible oils which could improve its margins and sale volume.

The shares are also up on anticipation that it could report better-than-expected quarterly earnings next week due to smaller paper losses, an analyst said.

Indonesian and Indian stocks, which were pummelled last month, saw some bargain-buying this week

The FTSE CNBC 100 Index advanced 0.65 percent.