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Last updated: February 16. 2013 8:34PM - 56 Views

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(AP) Shares fell Thursday in Asia, as positive news on U.S. economic growth dashed hopes for fresh measures by the Federal Reserve, and gloomy retail sales in Japan deepened concern over its recovery.


The Tokyo Stock Exchange's benchmark Nikkei fell 1.1 percent to 8,970 and South Korea's Kospi slipped 1.2 percent to 1,906.52. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index also was down 1.3 percent to 19,528.86, while Australia's S&P/ASX 200 shed 0.9 percent to 4,316.30.


Benchmarks in Singapore, Indonesia and mainland China fell while shares edged higher in New Zealand and Taiwan.


Investors are waiting for signs of fresh moves to revive the U.S. economic recovery that could come in a key speech by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke at a conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming on Friday.


Analysts say global stock trading will likely remain thin pending the outcome of that meeting, as investors are cautious about taking risky bets with so many unclear signals on the direction of the economy.


The U.S. Commerce Department announced Wednesday that the American economy grew at a 1.7 percent annual rate in the April-June quarter, yet another signal the world's No. 1 economy is experiencing a modest recovery.


Though the revision was bigger than an initial estimate of 1.5 percent, the news was a discouraging factor in the sense that it suggests no major monetary easing is likely, said Jackson Wong of Tanrich Securities in Hong Kong.


With China due for a major change in the Communist Party leadership, the share benchmark there dropped to a three-year low on Wednesday, with no sign of relief soon.


"We just don't have any catalyst. No rebound is likely without a major policy move," Wong said.


In Japan, a larger-than-expected 0.8 percent drop in retail sales in July from the year before added to worries over the economic outlook. Sony Corp. was down 2 percent while Yamada Denki Co., a major appliance retailer, dropped 4.4 percent.


In Europe overnight, the FTSE index of leading British shares fell 0.6 percent to close at 5,743.53, while France's CAC-40 pulled back 0.5 percent to 3,413.89. The DAX in Germany, meanwhile, eked out a gain of 0.1 percent at 7,010.57.


Investors are hoping the Federal Reserve will give the economy a fresh boost, and nothing in the U.S. central bank's "Beige Book" survey on how the economy is faring, released late Wednesday, would discourage the Fed from helping the economy.


That report showed the U.S. economy grew moderately in July and early August, and hiring was more robust than in the previous six-week period.


Strength in auto sales, tourism and home sales in July and early August offset weakness in manufacturing, it said.


Overshadowed by gloomy news from Europe, U.S. markets drew little encouragement from the upbeat data, with the Dow Jones industrial average ending the day nearly flat at 13,107.48 while the broader Standard & Poor's index edged 0.1 percent higher to 1,410.49.


The euro rose to $1.2545 from $1.2528 late Wednesday in New York. The dollar fell to 78.60 yen from 78.70 yen.


Benchmark oil for October delivery fell 53 cents to $94.96 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.


Associated Press
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