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Asian shares lacklustre despite a positive US lead

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Asian shares were lacklustre in early trade on Friday, despite US stocks closing higher on strong retail sales data.


Japan’s Nikkei 225 closed up just 0.12% at 20,407.08.


But on Thursday, the benchmark index marked its biggest percentage gain in four months.


“It’s interesting to see that US retail sales are up,” economist Tony Nash told the BBC, “as we’ve seen Asian exports down for the past several months.”


“The real question for Asia is whether the US up-tick is a trend and if that will flow upstream to exports in Asia any time soon,” said Mr Nash, managing partner of Complete Intelligence.


In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 closed down 0.21% at 5,545.30, while South Korea’s benchmark Kospi index closed down 0.22% at 2,052.17.


South Korean shares ended a four-day losing streak on Thursday after the country’s central bank cut interest rates to a record low, citing a deadly outbreak of Mers as a concern for the economy.


Mixed trading

In China, markets were setting a more positive trend, with Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index up 0.5% at 27,043.43 in afternoon trade and the Shanghai Composite up 0.72% at 5,158.40.


Chinese markets experienced mixed trading on Thursday following data that showed both retail sales and industrial production rose in May from a year earlier, in line with expectations.


But fixed asset investment grew more slowly than forecast in the first five months of the year compared to a year ago.


Earlier this week, China’s National Development and Reform Commission said that it had given approval for seven big new projects, including an airport expansion on Hainan – an island destination that is growing in popularity with holidaymakers.


Mr Nash said he expected fixed asset investment in China to see stronger growth in early 2016 in light of the Commission’s announcement.