Asian Stocks Finish Mixed

Stocks in Japan closed higher despite a report that Japanese exports plunged in November.
Publish date:

Updated from 12:39 a.m. EST

Asian stocks closed mixed Monday, with the benchmark index in Japan rising despite a report that Japanese exports plunged in November and an announcement from


(TM) - Get Report

that it was slashing its fiscal-year profit forecast.

Japan's Nikkei 225 stock average rose 1.6% to finish at 8723.78 on the back of the Bank of Japan's interest rate cut Friday to 0.1% and after the White House pledged to loan troubled U.S. automakers $17.4 billion.

A report from Japan's Ministry of Finance said Japanese exports plunged a record 26.7% in November, as global demand fell for automobiles, electronics parts and other Japanese products.

Exports suffered their biggest year-on-year drop since the current system of statistics went into effect in 1980. Exports totaled 5.3 trillion yen ($60 billion) while imports fell 14.4% from a year earlier to 5.55 trillion yen ($62 billion), the ministry said.

That resulted in a trade deficit of 223.4 billion yen ($2.5 billion) -- the fourth time this year Japan said its imports exceeded exports after January, August and October.

After markets in Japan closed, Toyota drastically slashed its profit forecast for the fiscal year ending in March 2009 saying it expects net income of50 billion yen ($555.8 million) compared with a previous forecast of 550 billion yen. The stock fell 0.2% before the announcement.

The Hang Seng index in Hong Kong fell 3.3% as shares of

HSBC Holdings


declined after Standard & Poor's gave the company a "negative" outlook, according to a



The S&P/ASX 200 index in Australia finished with a loss of 1.6% after UBS cut earnings targets for mining companies

Rio Tinto



BHP Billiton

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Stocks in Europe were trading lower. The FTSE 100 index in London declined 0.5%, while the DAX in Frankfurt fell 1.2%.

Premarket futures in the U.S. were indicating stocks would open higher Monday on Wall Street.

On Friday, stocks in the U.S. ended mixed as morning enthusiasm for a $17.4 billion aid package for ailing Detroit automakers sputtered to the close.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average

, which earlier rose more than 180 points, ended down 25.8 points, or 0.3%, at 8579.19. The

S&P 500

was edged up 2.32 points, or 0.3%, at 887.60, and the


added 11.95 points, or 0.8%, to 1564.32.

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