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Asia stocks mixed before German leader speaks
Asian stock markets mixed ahead of key parliament speech by German leader
By The Associated Press

BANGKOK (AP) ' Asian stock markets were mixed Friday, a day after rallying on news that six of the world's central banks slashed borrowing costs for banks to shore up Europe's financial system and prevent its debt crisis from getting worse.

Japan's Nikkei 225 index rose 0.4 percent to 8,629.81, and Australia's S&P ASX 200 gained 0.5 percent to 4,248.30. But South Korea's Kospi dropped 0.3 percent to 1,911.31 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.3 percent to 18,939.18. Benchmarks in Taiwan, Singapore and mainland China were also lower.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will speak before Germany's parliament about Europe's financial crisis and next Friday's EU summit.

Hopes are that European leaders will deliver a long-term solution to the debt crisis at the summit.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Federal Reserve, European Central Bank, Bank of England and the central banks of Canada, Japan and Switzerland said they were working together to make it easier for banks to borrow dollars.

The coordinated effort was meant to prevent Europe's debt crisis from exploding into a global panic. Should a European bank fail or if a country default on its debt, investors fear it could result in a freeze-up in global lending markets like the one that occurred in 2008 when Lehman Brothers collapsed.

Another rise in applications for weekly U.S. unemployment benefits dampened the mood on Wall Street on Thursday. Traders took little encouragement from a better manufacturing report. The Institute for Supply Management said that manufacturing grew last month at the fastest pace since June.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 0.2 percent to close at 12,020.03. The S&P 500 index slipped 0.2 percent to 1,244.59. The tech-heavy Nasdaq inched up 0.2 percent to 2,626.

The Labor Department said initial applications rose to 402,000 last week, the second weekly increase in a row. The figures didn't change expectations for the government's monthly labor report, which comes out Friday. Economists forecast that the unemployment rate will remain at 9 percent.

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