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ASIA MARKETS: Nikkei Tops 23,000 For First Time Since 1992, Pulls Back At Close

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11/09/2017 | 02:22pm CET

By Kenan Machado

Indexes in Hong Kong, Australia both hit 10-year highs

Asian stocks twisted in mixed action Thursday, although after Japan's Nikkei topped 23,000 for the first time since January 1992.

The Nikkei Stock Average opened strong and was up some 1.8% at one point. But it finished off 45 points, or 0.2%, at 22,868.71.

The early rally spread across the region, with Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index up 0.8% and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 climbing 0.5%, both hitting fresh 10-year highs.

Higher-than-expected October inflation data out of China helped sentiment.

"Rising inflation points to a strong and firmer pickup in global demand," said Prakash Sakpal, an economist for Asia at ING.

Producer prices in China are watched closely by investors and economists, as higher prices in the world's factory indicate rising demand with inflation trickling to Europe and Asia, as well as the U.S.

But stock moves in China remained muted Thursday morning, as indexes there continued recent cautious trading. In Hong Kong, an index tracking Chinese firms listed there climbed 1.1%.

Australian stocks, already rebounding ahead of the inflation data, hit session highs afterward. China is the country's biggest export market, and shares of mining companies BHP Billiton (>> BHP Billiton Limited) and Rio Tinto (>> Rio Tinto plc) each rose nearly 1% to hit fresh multiyear highs as iron-ore futures gained some 2% in China.

Benchmark indexes elsewhere in Asia logged modest gains Thursday, after similar action across the region Wednesday and overnight on Wall Street.

New Zealand stocks continued to lag behind, with the NZX 50 falling 0.2% after the index notched 17 record closing highs in October.

Software firm Xero (>> Xero Limited) said it would delist from the Wellington market and consolidate activity in Australia, sending its New Zealand-listed stock down as much as 6.4%. Milk producer Synlait (>> Synlait Milk Ltd) fell 2%, putting the week's plunge at 14%.

Meanwhile, strong corporate results propelled stocks in Japan higher. Robust earnings helped bearing marker MinebeaMitsumi (>> Minebea Mitsumi Inc) jump 12%, topping 2015's record high. Chocolate maker Meiji (>> MEIJI Holdings Co Ltd) climbed 5.7% to a one-year peak.

Traders there looked past a government report that core machinery orders, seen as a proxy for corporate capital spending, tumbled 8.1% in September from August, four times the drop economists had expected.

However, capital spending was still solidly higher for the third quarter, said Marcel Thieliant at Capital Economics. While noting the data captured some 20% of capital investments made by Japanese firms, he added, "Investments as a percentage of GDP still point to a recovery."

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