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ASIA MARKETS: Nikkei Scores Its Best Month Of 2017

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09/29/2017 | 11:54am CEST

By Lucy Craymer

Australian stocks log fifth-straight month of losses

Asia-Pacific stocks ended mostly higher on Friday as the September quarter came to an end, with many market participants squaring up positions ahead of some local holidays next week.

Many indexes in the region also closed higher for the month and quarter, with solid earnings and broadly positive risk sentiment continuing to outweigh the region's geopolitical concerns, in particular the escalation of tensions between North Korea and the U.S.

Japan led the way regionally in September, with the Nikkei notching its best month of 2017, rising 3.6%. It ended slightly lower on Friday, held back by a rebound in the yen -- the currency's recent weakness stoked this month's jump to two-year highs for the Nikkei. The dollar was recently at Yen112.50, up from Yen112.35 late Thursday in New York.

A star was South Korea's Kospi . After ending a seven-session losing streak Thursday--its longest in three years--the index ended 0.9% higher on Friday at 2,393.47, narrowly avoiding its first quarterly decline of 2017.

While some Japanese and South Korean economic data emerged early Friday, markets didn't seem to pay much attention. "I think the positioning around end of quarter is much more important than any of the data," said Stuart Ive, a client adviser at OM Financial in Wellington, New Zealand.

Stocks in China ended 0.3% higher ahead of holidays that will keep markets closed there through next week. South Korea will also be closed.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.2%, trimming its monthly loss to 0.6%. That marked a fifth-straight monthly decline, which hasn't happened since 2011. Australia, alongside Malaysia, has come under pressure from weakened commodity prices in the September quarter, with a sharp decline in iron-ore prices particularly hurting Australian mining stocks.

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