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Market Update

Nikkei Up But Shanghai Falls

Japanese shares extended gains Thursday even as most bourses in the region remained closed for the Boxing Day holiday.

The Nikkei gained 1% while the Shanghai Composite fell 1.6%. The Hong Kong and Australian markets remained closed while the Sensex edged up 0.2%.

Earlier Thursday, data showed housing starts rose more-than-expected to a seasonally adjusted 14.1% in the last quarter, beating expectations for a 9.2% rise.

China's state council said Wednesday the country's economic growth is likely to stand at 7.6% this year, down from 7.7% in 2012. Minister in charge of China’s National Development and Reform Commission Xu Shaoshi said, "We cannot deny a downward pressure on economic growth."

Also on Wednesday, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in an interview that he would announce a new reform agenda in June which would include measures to bring more women to work.

According to reports, traders said the apex bank did not inject any money into the banking system in regular open-market operations Thursday. It pumped in 29 billion yuan on Tuesday in seven-day reverse repurchase agreements.

Stocks on the Move

Toyota accelerated 3.3% while Mazda advanced 3.9%.

Toshiba and Sharp were up 1.9% each respectively while Hitachi gained 3.2%.

Banks were all lower in China with ICBC down 1.1% and AgBank and China Construction Bank Corp. down 1.2% and 1.7% each, respectively.

In resources, Jiangxi Copper melted 2.3% while Aluminum Corp. of China was down 1.8%.

ONGC was the top gainer on the Sensex, up 2.4%, followed by Tata Power, up 1.7%, and Sun Pharma, up 1.3%.

Index heavyweight RIL was down 0.7%.

Maruti Suzuki edged down 0.1% afer it said its Japanese parent Suzuki Motor has no immediate plans to raise its holding in the company but that such a possibility could not be ruled out.