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Market Update

Asia Stocks Lose Momentum; Nikkei Holds On

Most Asian markets gave up early gains Thursday and slipped into the negative zone following China inflation data.

The Shanghai Composite lost 0.4% while the Hang Seng erased 0.2%. Australia's S&P/ASX All Ordinaries also moved off initial highs and was trading flat at the time of writing. Mumbai's Sensex was also little changed at open.

Japan's Nikkei, however, managed to hold on the gains. The benchmark index was trading up 0.7% at 11:45 a.m. Tokyo time.

Sentiment was upbeat at open in the Asian session after Wall Street and German bourses hit fresh records overnight and as strong Australian jobs data further boosted confidence.

However, most bourses in the region lost momentum after data showed China's consumer price index increased a more-than-expected 2.4% in April from a year ago on the back of higher food prices. The producer price index, on the other hand, declined the most since October, falling 2.6% in April as compared with a decline of 1.9% a month ago. The data raised concerns about whether China would be able to continue with pursuing easy monetary policies.

Stocks on the move 

Exporters in Tokyo were trading mixed. On the upside, Sharp Corp. gained nearly 12% amid sustained optimism over supply of LCD screens for Apple Inc.'s new iPhone.

Chipmakers Advantest Corp and Sumco Corp. rose around 4% and 3% respectively. Car manufacturers Nissan Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Corp. advanced 1.8% and 0.8% respectively.

On the flipside, however, Toshiba Corp. dropped 4% after its fiscal year profit missed its own guidance.

Financials, realty players and drug makers were also mostly on the losers' side.

In Hong Kong, property developers lost ground. China Overseas Land & Investment gave up around a percent while Sun Hung Kai Properties eased 0.7%.

Shanghai-listed Gemdale Corp. fell 3.1% and the broader Shenzhen-listed China Vanke traded down 1.2%.

Banks were also listless -- ICBC erased 0.4%, Agricultural Bank pulled back 0.3% while Bank of Communications retreated 0.8%.

In Mumbai, HDFC continued its rally after posting upbeat results in the previous session. The mortgage lender rose 1.3%, topping the chart of gainers.

IT stocks and FMCG firms also found some buying support. TCS rose 1.3%, Wipro tacked on a percent, Dr. Reddys Lab improved 0.9% while Bharti Airtel and ITC picked up 0.8% and 0.4% respectively.

But offsetting these gains, metal players and auto stocks moved lower -- Sterlite Industries lost 1.3%, Maruti Suzuki eased 0.9%, Jindal Steel declined 0.8% while Tata Motors gave up 0.8%.

In Sydney, stocks were trading mixed amid a choppy session. Among banks, NAB retreated 1.8% while ANZ shed 1.3%. Westpac Banking was up 0.5%, however.

Among miners, BHP Billiton added 0.5% but Rio Tinto slipped 1.4%.

On the earnings front, News Corp. climbed over 3% after its third-quarter earnings topped estimates.

Other media companies were also in the green. Seven West Media rose 1.5%, Fairfax Media added around a percent.