HONG KONG (AP) — Most Asian stock markets advanced Friday as higher-than-expected Chinese inflation figures countered persisting worries over the world's No. 2 economy. Thailand's benchmark SET index rose 3.5 percent despite the death of its long-reigning king on Thursday.
KEEPING SCORE: Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 index edged up 0.1 percent to 16,785.20 and South Korea's Kospi advanced 0.5 percent to 2,025.60. Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 0.6 percent to 23,178.15 but the Shanghai Composite Index in mainland China slipped 0.3 percent to 3,052.38. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 edged 0.1 percent higher to 5,439.40.
CHINA INFLATION: Consumer prices in China rose 1.9 percent last month, higher than the 1.6 percent forecast by analysts in a FactSet survey. The numbers suggest consumer demand is starting to pick up in China, which has been grappling with a prolonged economic downturn. Another gauge of inflation released by China's statistics bureau, the producer price index measuring prices businesses receive for goods and services, rose 0.1 percent, better than the 0.3 percent decline that economists expected. The data countered pessimism a day earlier over worse than expected trade figures.
ANALYST VIEW: "Higher prices for heavy industrial products will provide China's heavily indebted corporations with more top line revenue," said Bill Adams, an economist at PNC Financial Services Group. "With low interest rates keeping debt service costs in check and producer prices rising, the outlook for Chinese industrial profits is improving."
THAI KING: Investors were awaiting the start of trading on Thailand's stock exchange a day after the death of the country's revered king King Bhumibol Adulyadej was announced. Businesses were open Friday and the prime minister said in a televised address that the stock market should remain open to minimize disruptions.
WALL STREET: Major U.S. benchmarks ended lower. The Dow Jones Industrial average dipped 0.2 percent to 18,098.94. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 0.3 percent to 2,132.55. The Nasdaq composite sank 0.5 percent 5,213.33.
ENERGY: Oil prices were mixed. Benchmark U.S. crude oil futures rose 14 cents to $50.58 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract added 26 cents to settle at $50.44 a barrel on Thursday. Brent crude, the international standard, slipped 8 cents to $51.96 a barrel in London.
CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 103.95 yen from 103.64 yen. The euro slipped to $1.1043 from $1.1052.