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Japan’s GDP contraction weighs on Asian markets

Japan’s GDP contraction weighs on Asian markets

Asian shares declined on Monday in morning trade as Japan’s economy contracted at the fastest pace since last year’s earthquake, overshadowing an increase in China’s exports.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index lost 0.2% to 121 as of 10:54 a.m. in Tokyo. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average lost 0.6% as a report showed gross domestic product shrank an annualised 3.5% in the three months through September. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index was little changed and South Korea’s Kospi Index dropped 0.4%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index climbed 0.1% while the Shanghai Composite Index added 0.4%.

China’s exports increased 11.6% from a year earlier, the Beijing-based customs administration said in a statement. The figures exceeded the 10% estimate in a Bloomberg News survey of economists. Imports gained 2.4%, the same pace as the previous month. The trade surplus surged to $32 billion, the biggest in almost four years.

In the U.S., negotiations began to prevent the "fiscal cliff" by hammering out a compromise to cut the U.S. deficit before nearly $600 billion worth of spending cuts and tax increases kick in early next year.

In Europe, prospects for a bailout for Greece remained unclear even after the debt-stricken country on Sunday won a parliamentary approval for the 2013 budget law.

Fast Retailing Co., Asia’s biggest clothing retailer, lost 0.7% after Japan’s growth data. QBE Insurance Group Ltd. plunged 10%, the most in 10 months, after Australia’s largest insurer by market value said it will issue debt due to losses from hurricane Sandy in the U.S.

Li & Fung Ltd., a supplier of clothes and toys to Wal-Mart Stores Inc., added 1.1% after Chinese exports expanded at the fastest rate since May.

Lynas Corp., builder of the world’s biggest rare-earth refinery in Malaysia, fell 8.1% in Sydney after selling A$150 million of new shares.

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