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Asian shares mixed ahead of US inflation, Lunar New Year

TOKYO (AP) — Asian shares were mixed Wednesday with investors adopting a wait-and-see stance ahead of Lunar New Year holidays and the release of U.S. inflation data. KEEPING SCORE: Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 slipped nearly 0.3 percent to 21,191.75, while Australia's S&P/ASX 200 lost 0.3 percent to 5,841.20. South Korea's Kospi was up nearly 1.0 percent at 2,418.42. Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 1.2 percent to 30,204.97, while the Shanghai Composite index added 0.4 percent to 3,198.94. Markets in Southeast Asia were mixed.

U.S. INFLATION: Market players are awaiting the U.S. Labor Department's monthly report on consumer prices, due later in the day. The report takes on added importance since recent swings in financial markets were touched off by worries that inflation might rise too quickly, prompting the Federal Reserve to accelerate monetary tightening.

THE QUOTE: "It certainly feels like the proverbial calm before the storm and rightly so as there are plenty of reasons to be cautious, but whether it warrants the present sense of foreboding in the markets or not, equity investors seem undeterred by the possibility of higher yields," Stephen Innes of OANDA said in a commentary.

JAPAN GDP: Japan's economy grew at a slower than expected 0.5 percent annual pace in the October-December quarter, the eighth straight quarter of expansion. Growth for the entire calendar year was 1.6 percent, up from 0.9 percent in 2016. The preliminary data released Wednesday buttressed economists' expectations that growth will slow in the coming year.

WALL STREET: The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 0.3 percent to 2,662.94. The Dow added 0.2 percent to 24,640.45. The Nasdaq composite gained 0.5 percent to 7,013.51 and the Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks finished up 0.3 percent at 1,494.95. Volatility has increased, with the Dow Jones industrial average twice falling 1,000 points in a day last week, sometimes gaining or losing hundreds of points in a few minutes.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude lost 1 cent to $59.18 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It fell 10 cents to $59.19 a barrel in New York Tuesday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, added 7 cents to $62.79 a barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 107.17 yen from 107.55 yen. The euro climbed to $1.2380 from $1.2351.

AP Markets Writer Marley Jay contributed to this report. He can be reached at http://twitter.com/MarleyJayAP

His work can be found at https://apnews.com/search/marley%20jayt

Follow Yuri Kageyama on Twitter at https://twitter.com/yurikageyama

Her work can be found at https://www.apnews.com/search/yuri%20kageyama

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