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Asian markets subdued as investors brace for earnings season

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Asian stock markets were subdued on Friday, apart from another strong gain by Japan's benchmark. Trading was mostly subdued after Wall Street saw losses, as investors awaited corporate earnings and U.S. inflation data.

KEEPING SCORE: Japan's Nikkei 225 rose 1.0 percent to 21,155.67 while South Korea's Kospi lost 0.2 percent to 2,469.42. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index was almost unchanged at 28,454.70 and the Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.3 percent to 3,389.98. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.3 percent to 5,814.20. Stocks in Southeast Asia were higher.

JAPAN RALLY: The Nikkei 225 index has logged gains in most recent sessions, reaching levels last seen 21 years ago. Strong economic data and corporate earnings expectations are supporting sentiment, as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe looks set to buttress his already strong majority in parliament in a lower house election due to be held on Oct. 22.

SAMSUNG EARNINGS: Samsung said its third quarterly profit nearly tripled from a year earlier thanks to a continued boom in the memory chip industry. The company's share price dipped 0.4 percent after the head of its semiconductor business offered to resign, saying the company needs a new leader.

WALL STREET: U.S. stock indexes retreated from their record highs Thursday as health-related stocks slumped after President Donald Trump signed an order to launch health care reforms. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 0.2 percent to 2,550.93. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 0.1 percent to 22,841.01. The Nasdaq composite dipped 0.2 percent to 6,591.51. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks edged 0.1 percent lower to 1,505.16.

ANALYST VIEWPOINT: "U.S. markets took another break from record breaking, ending Thursday broadly lower. Diving into the earnings season, it may not be a welcoming turn for Asian markets looking to continue the strong rally from yesterday," Jingyi Pan of IG said in a commentary. "Friday's September CPI release may still offer an opportunity for the U.S. dollar to see some upsides."

OIL: Benchmark U.S. crude oil added 27 cents to $50.87 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract lost 70 cents, or 1.4 percent, to finish at $50.60 a barrel on Thursday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, rose 25 cents to $56.50 per barrel in London. It fell 69 cents, or 1.2 percent, to close at $56.25 a barrel on Thursday.

CURRENCIES: The dollar weakened to 112.14 yen from 112.30 yen. The euro rose to $1.1850 from $1.1828.

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