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Shares Mixed in Asia, Sydney Recovers From Selloff

02/21/2013 | 09:06pm US/Eastern
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--Asian markets mixed on European data.

--Australia recovers from Thursday's selloff.

--Australian dollar climbs on RBA Gov. Stevens' comments

Asian markets were mixed Friday following poor economic data from Europe, while Australia rebounded from Thursday's heavy selling.

Overnight cues put most markets on the back foot early Friday -- weaker-than-expected manufacturing data from Germany and France were in focus.

"The data in Europe confirmed the idea that the recovery in Europe is still a long way off," said Matthew Sherwood, head of investment market research at Perpetual Investments in Sydney.

Europe remained on the agenda, amid caution before the election in Italy, which goes to the polls on Sunday and Monday. Investors are concerned that the new government could lack a strong mandate or even reverse the country's reform agenda.

The mixed showing followed declines on Thursday where there was a heavy selloff after the minutes from U.S. Federal Reserve's most recent policy meeting raised concerns that the central bank's stimulus measures could come to an end earlier than expected.

"Markets were probably overheated. They had risen very aggressively and were probably ready for a pullback," said Perpetual's Mr. Sherwood.

Markets in both Hong Kong and Shanghai could finish the week lower amid fears that Beijing will implement further tightening measures to control prices in the residential property market.

On Friday, the Australian dollar climbed after Reserve Bank of Australia governor Glenn Stevens said at a parliamentary committee that interest rates were at an "appropriate level," suggesting a pause in the central bank's series of aggressive rate cuts.

The Australian dollar was recently at US$1.0299 compared with US$1.0240 before the governor's testimony.

The U.S. dollar was roughly steady against the yen early Friday, recently at Y93.15, following a 0.5% overnight decline. The market was waiting to find out who would be the next governor of the Bank of Japan, with a decision expected to be made soon.

The overnight strengthening of the yen translated into losses for Japanese stocks, with the Nikkei down 0.5%.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 rose 1.3%, making a substantial recovery on the 2.3% plunge the market made on Thursday.

In mainland China, the Shanghai Composite was flat -- stabilizing after falling heavily on Thursday. In Hong Kong however, stocks were still notching up fresh declines, with the Hang Seng Index down 0.5%.

South Korea's Kospi Composite added 0.5%.

Write to Daniel Inman at daniel.inman@wsj.com

Subscribe to WSJ: http://online.wsj.com?mod=djnwires

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