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Stock market: Asian shares higher as Japan says economy shrank in 3Q

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Shares advanced in Asia on Monday as plans for stimulus in Japan overshadowed news that its economy contracted in the last quarter.

Investors are awaiting the outcome of a virtual meeting between U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Benchmarks rose in Tokyo, Sydney, Hong Kong and Seoul but fell in Shanghai.

Japan reported that its economy contracted in the July-September quarter amid tighter pandemic restrictions that hit consumer spending.

In annual terms, the economy shrank at a 0.3% rate. It contracted 0.8% from the previous quarter.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is due to present a major stimulus package this week, with spending of up to 40 trillion yen (US$350 billion).

A recent sharp decline in new coronavirus cases has enabled the country to relax restrictions on business and other activities, and that coupled with the government spending is expected to fuel a solid rebound for the last quarter of the year.

Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 index gained 0.6% to 29,776. while the Kospi in South Korea surged 1% to 2,999.52. In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 added 0.3% to 7,470.10.

China’s latest data update was a mixed bag, with stronger retail sales and factory output but weaker housing prices and investments in fixed assets.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index edged 0.1% higher to 25,307.34, while the Shanghai Composite index slipped 0.2% to 3,552.74.

In Beijing, a new stock exchange set up to serve entrepreneurs opened trading Monday with 81 companies amid a crackdown on tech giants that has wiped more than $1 trillion off their market value abroad.

It joins others in Shanghai and the southern city of Shenzhen. Mainland exchanges are mostly off-limits to foreign investors and were set up mainly to raise funds for state-owned companies. President Xi Jinping said in September the Beijing exchange would “create a service-innovation-oriented main position for small and medium-size enterprises,” the ruling party’s term for private companies.

On Friday, stocks closed higher on Wall Street but the market still ended the week lower.

The S&P 500 index added 0.7% to 4,682.85, but ended the week down 0.3% in the first weekly loss for the benchmark in six weeks.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.5% to 36,100.31 and the Nasdaq composite closed up 1%, at 15,860.96. The Dow lost 0.6% for the week and the Nasdaq lost 0.7%.

The recent winning streak for stocks, which produced a series of record highs for the major indexes, appears to have come to an end as investors shift their focus from corporate earnings to rising inflation.

A wide range of companies showed that they successfully navigated both the summer surge of COVID-19 cases and lingering supply chain problems.

Looking ahead, however, companies are warning that higher raw materials costs and supply chain disruptions could crimp their finances. Prices have also been rising for consumer goods and essential items, raising concerns that people could pull back on spending and hurt the economic recovery.

Wall Street will get an update on consumer spending on Tuesday when the Commerce Department releases its retail sales report for October. Several big companies have yet to report earnings and that includes Home Depot and Walmart, which will report their results on Tuesday. Target will report its results on Wednesday and Macy’s will report earnings on Thursday.

Also Monday, U.S. benchmark crude oil shed 57 cents to $80.22 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It lost 80 cents to $80.79 per barrel on Friday.

Brent crude oil, the basis for international pricing, lost 58 cents to $81.59 per barrel.

The dollar slipped to 113.84 Japanese yen from 113.97 yen. The euro rose to $1.1457 from $1.1447.

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