Asian shares mixed, Nikkei up on weaker yen

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Tokyo stock price index July 16, 2013 screen grab from http://www.tse.or.jp/english/

HONG KONG—Asian markets were mixed on Tuesday following a rally in the previous session, while Tokyo enjoyed a pick-up after a long weekend as the dollar remained strong against the yen.

Wall Street provided strong support after the Dow and S&P 500 closed at record highs for a third straight session despite weak retail sales figures.

Tokyo rose 0.61 percent as it played catch-up with a region-wide advance on Monday, while Sydney was flat, but Hong Kong eased 0.26 percent, Shanghai fell 0.41 percent and Seoul lost 0.32 percent.

Profit-taking weighed on prices after Monday’s gains fuelled by Chinese economic growth data that come in line with forecasts.

However, the 7.5 percent expansion in April-June still represented a second mixed straight quarter of slower growth, highlighting weakness in the world’s number two economy.

Japanese investors took advantage of the softer yen, which began to fall against the dollar last week after Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke said the bank’s easy money policy would remain in place for some time.

In early Tokyo forex trade the dollar, which peaked above 100 yen in early trade, eased slightly to sit at 99.90 yen by late morning, compared with 99.82 yen in New York late Monday.

The euro fetched $1.3055 and 130.54 yen compared with $1.3064 and 130.41 yen in New York.

On Wall Street the Dow rose 0.13 percent and the S&P 500 added 0.14 percent, both hitting all-time highs for a third-straight session. The Nasdaq gained 0.21 percent.

US traders brushed off figures showing retail sales in June rose just 0.4 percent, below the 0.7 percent expected by analysts. Excluding motor vehicle and parts sales, retail sales were flat.

With few new catalysts to drive action, focus will now turn to Bernanke’s testimony on the US economy and monetary policy Wednesday and Thursday. There will also be a two-day meeting of the Group of 20 finance ministers and central bank governors that concludes Friday.

Oil prices were mixed, with New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in August up 22 cents to $106.54 a barrel while Brent North Sea crude for August delivery shed 10 cents to $108.99 in morning trade.

Gold fetched $1,277.40 per ounce at 0210 GMT, compared with $1,282.92 late Friday.

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