• Asian equities up on China figures

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    HONG KONG: Asian markets mostly bounced back on Thursday after sharp declines in the previous session, as China posted upbeat trade figures that bolstered the outlook for the world’s second-biggest economy.

    But Tokyo dropped 1.59 percent, or 219.38 points to 13,605.56, after a 4-percent plunge on Wednesday triggered partly by renewed concerns over a potential tapering of the US stimulus program.

    The losses came as the yen gained ground against the dollar after the Bank of Japan issued an upbeat assessment of Tokyo’s efforts to counter growth-sapping deflation, as it left its vast monetary easing program unchanged.

    Shanghai ended flat, edging down 1.88 points to 2,044.90, as China’s imports and exports both showed an unexpected jump in July.

    Bigger-than-expected gains in imports outpaced those of exports, causing the overall trade surplus to fall 29.6 percent year-on-year to $17.8 billion.

    In other markets, Sydney gained 1.07 percent, or 53.5 points to 5,064.8, Seoul added 0.3 percent, or 5.64 points to 1,883.97, and Hong Kong climbed 0.31 percent, or 67.04 points to 21,655.88.

    US shares dropped on Wednesday for the third straight session, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average losing 0.31 percent, or 48.07 points to 15,470.67.

    The broad-based S&P 500 gave up 0.38 percent, or 6.46 points to 1,690.91, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index fell 0.32 percent, or 11.76 points to 3,654.01.

    Comments from Federal Reserve officials earlier this week sparked jitters over a likely pullback of the US stimulus, weighing down global markets.

    The chiefs of the Federal Reserve’s Chicago and Atlanta branches both said that the central bank could begin tapering its $85-billion-a-month quantitative easing program in September, but stressed that economic growth needed to hold steady or improve.

    On currency markets, the greenback slipped to 96.28 yen in Asian afternoon trade from 96.39 yen in New York City on Wednesday. The euro also lost its morning gains to sit at 128.45 yen from 128.55 yen in US trading.

    Against the dollar, the European single currency strengthened in afternoon deals to $1.3341 from $1.3334 in New York City.

    AFP

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