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Asian markets mixed ahead of Bernanke speech
Asian stocks mixed as markets await speech by Fed chief Bernanke
By The Associated Press

BANGKOK (AP) ' Asian markets were mixed Friday as investors waited to see if the Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke unveils new steps to help the U.S. economy ward off another recession.

Japan's Nikkei 225 index slipped less than 0.1 percent to 8,766.54. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index rose 0.6 percent to 19,878.40 while Australia's S&P ASX 200 was 0.1 percent lower at 4,207.70. South Korea's Kospi index was up 0.5 percent at 1,773.67.

Trading was expected to remain tentative and volatile as investors wait to see if Bernanke offers more support for the U.S. economy when he delivers a highly anticipated speech at a conference later Friday in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

Worries that the U.S. could be headed for another recession has in recent weeks caused huge volatility in equities, bonds and foreign exchange.

In Europe on Thursday, debate continued about the best way to resolve debt problems in several countries. Germany's main stock index, the DAX, plummeted 4 percent within 20 minutes before paring its losses and closing down 1.7 percent.

The sudden move in the financial market rattled investors and prompted some to buy gold, causing prices of the metal to rebound.

Benchmark oil for October delivery was down 4 cents to $85.26 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 14 cents to settle at $85.30 per barrel on the Nymex on Thursday.

On Thursday, the U.S. government reported an increase in the number of people applying for unemployment benefits last week. The Labor Department said applications rose to 417,000, the highest in five weeks.

The Dow Jones industrial average closed down or 1.5 percent at 11,149.82. The S&P 500 index fell 1.6 percent to 1,159.27. The Nasdaq fell 1.9 percent to 2,419.63.

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