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Market Update

Asian Markets Lose Fizz After China Data

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

At close, the Shanghai Composite was down 0.6% while the Hang Seng slipped 0.1%. Mumbai's Sensex eased 0.3%.


Nikkei managed to stay afloat for a while but the index, too, lost fizz by day-end. The benchmark index finished 0.7% lower.

Australia's S&P/ASX All Ordinaries, too, moved off day’s highs and finished a choppy session just marginally above the flat-line (+0.1%).

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 easy monetary policies.

Stocks on the move 

Exporters in Tokyo logged losses after recent string of sharp gains. Sony Corp., Panasonic Corp. and Komatsu ended around 1.5% lower.

Toshiba Corp. tumbled nearly 5% after its fiscal year profit missed its own guidance.

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

On the upside, however, Sharp Corp. gained 14.6% amid sustained optimism over supply of LCD screens for Apple Inc.'s new iPhone.

In Hong Kong, property developers lost ground. China Overseas Land & Investment gave up a percent while Sun Hung Kai Properties eased 0.4%.

Shanghai-listed Gemdale Corp. fell 2.7% and the broader Shenzhen-listed China Vanke traded down 1.3%.

Banks were also listless -- ICBC finished flat but Agricultural Bank pulled back 0.3% while Bank of Communications retreated 0.2%.

In Mumbai, stocks tracked weakness in overseas markets. Top losers included drugmakers, metal players and auto stocks.

Sun Pharma plunged 3.7%, Jindal Steel fell 3.4% while Cipla lost 1.5%. Maruti Suzuki drove down 1.3% and Bajaj Auto backtracked 0.5%.

HDFC slipped 0.7% as profit booking erased advances made in the previous session on heels of upbeat results. HDFC Bank and ICICI Bank also ended below the flat-line, down 1% and 0.5% respectively.

Syndey-listed banks also finished mostly lower-- NAB retreated 2.1% while ANZ shed 1.3%. Westpac Banking was up 1.2%, however.

Among miners, BHP Billiton added 0.7% but Rio Tinto slipped 1.2%.

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

Other media companies were also in the green. Seven West Media rose over 3%, Fairfax Media added 2.4%.