Asian stocks traded mixed Thursday, as Japan gave away much of its gains from the previous session while Chinese inflation data kept Hong Kong sentiment in check. In Japan , the Nikkei 225 index dropped 241.12 points, or 1.5%, to 15,880.33, as the U.S. dollar was trading below the ¥105 mark. The greenback was at ¥104.86, steady with ¥104.87 late Wednesday after spiking to ¥105.12 intraday. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index fell 209.26 points, or 0.9%, to 22,787.13 The Australian dollar climbed as high as 89.12 U.S. cents after data showed that November retail sales rose 0.7% from a month earlier, compared with a forecast 0.4%, with the gain marking the seventh consecutive monthly rise. Also on Thursday, the number of Australian home-building permits fell for a second month in November, increasing concern over the strength of a rebound in housing construction. November approvals fell 1.5% from October, after declining 1.6% on-month in October, offsetting the positive retail news. The Aussie pared much of its gains after the Chinese inflation data came out, trading at 88.82 U.S. cents, compared with 88.99 U.S. cents late Wednesday. In the currency markets, South Korea's won was steady at 1,063.96 against the U.S. dollar from its last closing of 1,064.90 won after the Bank of Korea decided to keep the benchmark lending rate unchanged at 2.5%, in line with expectations. CHINA The main economic event in Asia on Thursday was Chinese inflation data for December. The consumer price index rose 2.5% on year, meeting expectations of 13 economists polled by The Wall Street Journal, and easing from a 3% gain in November. Shanghai's CSI 300 index sagged 19.69 points, or 0.9%, to 2,222.22 The inflation figures came after some disappointing economic numbers from China earlier in the month that pointed to decelerating activity in both the services and manufacturing sectors. In other markets; Korea's Kospi index shed 12.85 points, or 0.7%, to 1,946.11 Taiwan's Taiex Index lost 41.33 points, or 0.5%, to 8,514.68 The Singapore Straits Times Index docked 5.24 points, or 0.2%, to 3,145.41 In New Zealand , the NZX 50 gained 35.07 points, or 0.7%, to 4,814.88 In Australia , the S&P/ASX 200 added 8.36 points, or 0.2%, to 5,324.41
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