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Asian stock markets mixed after Japan manufacturing falls short of expectations

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BANGKOK - Asian stock markets were subdued Friday after Japanese manufacturing undershot expectations and worries about Syria's civil war dampened investor spirits.

Japan's Nikkei 225 index shed morning gains after the government released figures that, while showing some strength, fell short of expectations.

Manufacturing in the world's No. 3 economy rose 1.6 per cent in July from a year earlier and 3.2 per cent from the month before. While that pointed to an economic recovery, analysts had expected to see a 3.6 per cent increase. Still, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said it foresaw further expansion in August and September.

"If these forecasts are realised, industrial production momentum will climb to new highs," analysts at Capital Economics said in a written commentary.

The Nikkei in Tokyo fell 0.7 per cent to 13,369.49. Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 0.1 per cent to 21,681.16. South Korea's Kospi gained 0.5 per cent to 1,918.39. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.5 per cent to 5,117.50.

On Wall Street, stocks posted modest gains Thursday, as some positive news for the U.S. economy outweighed worries about Syria. The economy grew at a 2.5 per cent annual rate from April through June, much faster than previously estimated. The government also reported the number of people who filed for unemployment benefits fell last week.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 0.1 per cent to close at 14,840.95. The Standard & Poor's 500 rose 0.2 per cent to 1,638.17. The Nasdaq composite rose 0.8 per cent, to 3,620.30.

Lawmakers in the U.K. also refrained from authorizing British participation in action against Syria after an alleged chemical weapons attack near Damascus killed more than 300 civilians earlier this month. The U.S. government is considering a response.

Benchmark oil for October delivery was down $1.28 to $107.52 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell $1.30 to close at $108.80 a barrel on the Nymex on Thursday.

In currencies, the euro rose to $1.3245 from $1.3237 late Thursday. The dollar fell to 98.14 from 98.32 yen.

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Follow Pamela Sampson on Twitter at http://twitter.com/pamelasampson

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