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Asia Stocks Mixed After US Durable Goods Falls

By PAMELA SAMPSON

BANGKOK (AP) â¿¿ World stock markets fell Friday after Japan faced an unwelcome drop in consumer prices.

The Nikkei 225 in Tokyo slipped from a five-year high after Japan's consumer price index fell 0.9 percent in March from a year earlier. The result flies in the face of efforts by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who took office in December vowing to reverse a long bout of deflation, or falling prices, which has crippled economic growth. The Nikkei, which in the morning hit its highest intraday level in five years at 13,983.87, fell 0.3 percent to close at 13,884.13.

In early European trading, Britain's FTSE 100 fell 0.3 percent to 6,423.25. Germany's DAX shed 0.3 percent to 7,812.62. France's CAC-40 lost 0.7 percent to 3,815.24. Wall Street also appeared headed for losses, with Dow Jones industrial futures falling 0.2 percent to 14,627. S&P 500 futures were down 0.3 percent to 1,577.50.

Later Friday, the U.S. Commerce Department will release economic growth figures for the first three months of 2013.

"A solid GDP figure out of the US should give markets a boost," said Daniel Martin of Capital Economics in Singapore. He said he expected the data to show that the world's No. 1 economy grew at an annual rate of 3.2 percent. That would be a sharp improvement from the anemic 0.4 percent growth rate reported for the final quarter of the year.

Earlier in Asia, Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.7 percent to 22,547.71. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 slipped 0.1 percent to 5,097.50. South Korea's Kospi fell 0.4 percent at 1,944.56. Benchmarks in mainland China and India fell.

Wall Street closed higher Thursday after the U.S. government reported the number of Americans seeking jobless benefits dropped last week by 16,000, suggesting that companies are cutting fewer jobs and that the U.S. may be headed for an uptick in job growth.

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