Asian shares edge up but Tokyo hit by CPI data

Asian shares edge up but Tokyo hit by CPI data

Hong Kong: Asian shares were mostly higher on Friday but Tokyo edged down after data showed consumer prices rose for the first time in 28 months in April due to higher fuel prices following the 11 March disaster.

Hong Kong opened 0.12% higher, Sydney gained 0.43%, Seoul rose 0.86% and Shanghai added 0.18%.

Tokyo’s Nikkei slipped 0.24% by the break after the government released figures showing prices rose 0.6% year on year last month, the first increase since December 2008.

Dealers sold up as the data, which excludes volatile food prices, pointed to a jump in costs for oil products due to higher import prices and supply problems. Analysts said the jump does not indicate an end to the country’s deflationary woes.

“The CPI uptick came mostly from higher materials costs being passed on to consumers rather than an increase in demand," and that could hurt consumer spending, Hideyuki Ishiguro, a strategist at Okasan Securities, told Dow Jones Newswires.

The Japanese market was also weighed by a slightly stronger yen.

In early Asian trade the dollar fetched ¥81.22, down from 81.29 in New York late Thursday and well off the 82.00 a day earlier.

The euro bought 114.99 yen, down from 115.06 in New York while it edged down to $1.4135 from $1.4141 in New York.

The euro remained under pressure amid concerns that Greece could default on its debt repayments as Athens warned that it would go bankrupt without the next tranche of a multi-billion-dollar bailout.

However, the International Monetary Fund has said it will not allow the cash to be released unless Greece provides “assurances" on how the country will fund its future.

The US currency was slightly weaker after worse-than-expected figures raised concerns over the world’s biggest economy.

The Labor Department announced that jobless claims headed higher after two weeks of declines, while the government also left unrevised its estimate of first-quarter economic growth at 1.8%.

Most analysts had expected a rise to 2.0%.

Despite the disappointing figures the Dow Jones Industrial Average eked out a small gain of 0.07% on Thursday.

On oil markets New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for July delivery gained 29 cents to $100.52 a barrel and Brent North Sea crude for July was 20 cents higher at $115.25.

Gold opened in Hong Kong at $1,523.00-$1,524.00 per ounce, up from Wednesday’s close of $1,525.00-$1,526.00.