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Japan shares lead Asia markets higher on stimulus hopes

The Associated Press

FILE – This Aug. 9, 2011, file photo, shows a Wall Street street sign near the New York Stock Exchange. European stock markets slipped Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2015, after a lackluster session in Asia failed to ignite much buying impetus with traders around the world still digesting figures confirming a slowdown in Chinese economic growth. Oil prices steadied following a big retreat the previous session. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

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TOKYO (AP) — Asian stock markets were mostly higher Wednesday as Japan’s weak export figures boosted hopes for more central bank stimulus.

KEEPING SCORE: Japan’s Nikkei 225 gained 1.6 percent to 18,501.69 and South Korea’s Kospi was up 0.4 percent at 2,046.61. China’s Shanghai Composite Index added 0.4 percent to 3,438.78 and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.4 percent to 5,256.00. Hong Kong’s market was closed for a public holiday. Taiwan’s benchmark fell while Southeast Asian stock markets rose.

JAPAN TRADE: Meager growth in exports led to a 114.48 billion yen ($955 million) trade deficit in September, well below economists’ forecasts for a surplus of over 80 billion yen. A 3.5 percent year-on-year drop in exports to China underscored the weakness in demand that is hindering Japan’s own recovery. But investors may be counting on moves by the central bank to counter those trends with more stimulus measures.

THE QUOTE: The trade data were a “bad news is good news” moment for the Nikkei, said Angus Nicholson of IG in a market commentary. But given recent upbeat comments by central bank officials and the finance minister, and the fact that the BOJ already controls most of the market in the government securities it has been buying to pump money into the economy, “The big question is whether the Bank of Japan will do anything about it during its meeting next week.”

WALL STREET: U.S. stocks snapped a three-day winning streak Tuesday as weak company earnings and outlooks weighed on the market. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 0.1 percent to 17,217.11 and the Standard & Poor’s 500 fell 0.1 percent, to 2,030.77.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude fell 25 cents to $46.04 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It gained 1 cent to $46.29 on Tuesday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, fell 15 cents to $48.56 a barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 119.98 yen from 119.84 yen in the previous session. The euro rose to $1.1361 from $1.1352.

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