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Market Update

Asian Markets Tread Water; Nikkei Down on Stronger Yen

Most Asian markets were trading flat Friday, but Japanese firms pushed deeper into the negative zone on the back of a stronger yen ahead of the G-20 meeting this weekend.

The Nikkei dropped 1.9% at 1:47 p.m. while the Hang SengSensex and the S&P/ASX All Ordinaries stuck to the flat line.

Markets in mainland China remained shut for public holidays.

Trading started on a low key this morning after downbeat economic data from the euro-zone yesterday dented investor confidence. Overnight cues from Wall Street were also not very encouraging. Stocks in the U.S. ended near the flat-line in the wake of some corporate news and European data.

In currencies, the yen was in focus even as the Group of Twenty members geared up for the meeting that starts later today in Moscow. Traders were expecting delegates from to comment on Japan's recent measures to weaken its currency.

The yen was trading 0.5% higher against the dollar at 92.43 at the time of writing.

Stocks on the move

In Tokyo, currency-sensitive firms were the worst hit, as a stronger yen tends to weaken earnigns outlook of export-focussed firms.

Sharp Corp. declined 4.6%, Mazda Motor backtracked over 4% and Panasonic Corp. erased 3.3%.

Financials underwent deep cuts too. Mizuho Financial Group tumbled over 7%, Daiwa Securites lost over 4% while Mitsubishi UFJ Financial lost around 4.5%.

In earnings related news, Trend Micro reported a 23% slide in net income. Shares of the antivirus software maker were down 7.6% in response.

Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp. retreated around 4% despite posting a quarterly profit as the steel giant issued a disappointing earnings forecast for the fiscal year.

Likewise, Kirin Holdings Co. fell 5.6% after reporting a gain in full-year profit as the company said it expected pre-tax profit to decline 5%.

In Hong Kong, gains in some metal players were offset by losses in financials and property developers.

On the gainers side, Angang Steel rose 1.6% and Jiangxi Copper added 0.3%. Some property players were also on the upside. Poly Property Group edged up 0.4% and China Overseas Land & Investment gained 1.3%.

But others moved lower -- Sino Land Co. lost 1% while Sun Hung Kai Properties erased 0.7%.

In the financials segment, HSBC Holdings eased 0.5% and ICBC slipped 0.2%.

In Mumbai, earnings were in focus even as markets tracked their global counterparts lower.

Tata Motors declined 1.3% after reporting weak numbers, while Suzlon Energy dropped over 10% after the turbine manufacturer's third-quarterly figures disappointed.

However, SBI moved slightly higher after the country's largest lender reported a 4% rise in net profit.

In Sydney, NAB edged up 0.6%, Westpac gained 1.4% but ANZ fell 2.6% after reporting a 20% drop in fourth quarter profits.

Miners dragged the resource-heavy benchmark index lower. Rio Tinto dropped 2.6% after reporting its biggest loss in 15 years. Close-rival BHP Billiton slipped 0.8% too.