Asian markets mixed ahead of China data

Asian markets were mixed early on Thursday as dealers awaited Chinese trade data, hoping for a clearer idea of the state of the world's second biggest economy.

The Nikkei in Japan made healthy gains thanks to the continued weakness of the yen, while a rally on Wall Street capped a two-day losing streak.

Tokyo climbed 0.66 percent, Hong Kong added 0.11 percent and Shanghai was up 0.22 percent but Seoul slipped 0.10 percent and Sydney was flat.

Thursday's trade data from Beijing will give investors something to digest for the first time since last week's strong performances on global markets sparked by the US fiscal cliff deal.

There are hopes that trade and exports will show an improvement and provide further evidence that the Chinese economy is finally emerging from a drawn-out slumber that has seen growth slow for seven straight quarters.

A series of data for the past few months has suggested interest rate cuts and reductions in the amount of cash banks must keep in reserve have had the desired effect of greasing the cogs of the economy.

Inflation figures are due out on Friday while closely watched gross domestic product results are expected on Sunday.

In Tokyo exporters were higher owing to the weaker yen, spurred by expectations for fresh monetary easing by the Bank of Japan as well as promises by the new government to boost spending.

The dollar rose to 88.06 yen in early Asian trade, from 87.86 yen in New York late Wednesday, while the euro climbed to 114.97 yen from 114.77 yen.

The single currency eased to $1.3044 from $1.3061.

On Wall Street the Dow rose 0.46 percent, the S&P 500 added 0.27 percent and the Nasdaq Composite jumped 0.45 percent.

However, investors remain wary as the US corporate earnings season gets under way.

Oil prices were mixed, with New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in February, gaining three cents to $93.13 a barrel while Brent North Sea crude for February delivery dropped 11 cents to $111.65.

Gold was at $1,655.10 at 0140 GMT compared with $1,663.68 late Wednesday.

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