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Market Update

Asian Markets End Mostly Lower

Most Asian bourses closed with losses Friday as investors moved to the sidelines ahead of some key data points from China next week.

At close, the Nikkei was down 0.5% as the yen grew stronger against the dollar.

Bank of Japan governor Haruhiko Kuroda said the central bank's inflation target of 2% is "flexible" and that the central bank would take necessary steps to ensure the aggressive easing policies do not result in bubbles in stock markets or other asset classes.

Among other indexes, the Shanghai Composite pushed down 0.6% while the Hang Seng finished near the flat-line, down 0.1%.

The BSE Sensex tumbled 1.7% led by losses in IT stocks while the S&P/ASX All Ordinaries managed to eke out a mild gain of 0.1%.

Wall Street equities rallied Thursday after a surprise drop in the number of U.S. jobless claims last week booste investor confidence.

Sentiment, however, turned cautious during the Asian session as markets awaited the release of some key Chinese data next week. First quarter GDP numbers as well as industrial production and retail sales for March will be released on Monday.

Stocks on the move
Exporters in Tokyo were mostly in the red as a stronger yen prompted investors to book profits after a streak of strong gains in recent sessions.

Sharp Corp. and Toshiba, however, bucked the trend adding 7% and 1.9% respectively.

Also on the upside, power utilities soared higher. Kyushu Electric Power surged 21.6% while Tokyo Electric Power vaulted around 16%.

Auto makers were in focus after reports said the country's top auto manufacturers have recalled at least 3 million vehicles worldwide for defects in airbags made by Takata Corp.

Toyota Motor, Honda Motor and Nissan Motor, however, pared early losses and finished up around 0.5% each, but Takata Corp. fell around 2%.

On the earnings front, Fast Retailing slipped 0.9% after its first-half profit came in lower than estimates.

In Hong Kong, some property developers gained ground. China Overseas Land & Investment traded 1.2% higher while Sino Land Company was up 1%. New World Development enhanced 1.1%.

Exporters posted slim gains -- Esprit Holdings rose 1.7% while Foxconn International Holdings climbed 0.4%.

In Mumbai, IT services exporter Infosys plunged over 21% following forecast of lower revenue growth for this fiscal year.

Close-rival Wipro followed down 4.7% while TCS dropped a modest 1.6%.

Auto stocks were among other losers on the 30-share benchmark index -- Maruti Suzuki reversed 1.3%, Mahindra & Mahindra and Tata Motors backtracked 1% each.

In Sydney, Woodside Petroleum rose over 3% after the oil explorer said it has shelved a gas-export project estimated to cost over $40 billion.

Among other oil stocks, Santos finished flat while Oil Search slipped 0.9%.

Miners were listless too -- BHP Billiton retreated 0.2% while Rio Tinto lost 2%.

But most banks were on the positive turf, albeit with slim gains --ANZ added 0.4%, NAB climbed 0.1% while Commonwealth Bank finished little changed.