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Asian trading muted due to Good Friday holiday

Thu, 04/21/2011 - 7:45pm
The Associated Press

Japan's Nikkei 225 index was lower Friday on the back of a strengthening yen that could hurt exporters already struggling in the aftermath of last month's devastating earthquake.

The Nikkei, one of a handful of exchanges open on the Good Friday holiday, was 0.5 percent lower to 9,639.16. Shares of major exporters slumped, including Canon Inc., by 2.3 percent; Sony Corp., by 1.5 percent; and Honda Motor Corp., down 1.1 percent.

South Korea's Kospi index was flat at 2,198.50, and mainland China's Shanghai Composite Index was down 0.2 percent to 3,022.17 as investors booked profits following a week where stocks generally moved up. The smaller Shenzhen Composite Index was also down, 0.3 percent to 1,278.70.

Markets in Hong Kong, the Philippines, Australia and New Zealand were closed for the holiday.

On Wall Street, strong earnings from large companies like Apple Inc. and UnitedHealth lifted stocks broadly higher Thursday. Gains were spread across the market, with all 10 company groups that make up the S&P 500 index closing the day with gains.

The Dow rose 52 points to close at 12,506. The S&P 500 rose 7 points to 1,337. The Nasdaq rose 18 points to 2,820.

The euro rose $1.4555 from $1.4544 late Thursday in New York. The dollar dropped to 81.85 yen from 81.90 yen.

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