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Japan's Nikkei falls amid strengthening yen as stock markets elsewhere break for holiday
BANGKOK (AP) ' Japan's Nikkei 225 fell Tuesday amid a stronger yen and signs of a slowing U.S. economy, while other key Asian stock indexes were closed for a public holiday.
The Nikkei Stock Average in Tokyo fell 1 percent to 9,422.83. Export shares struggled as the dollar hovered below the 80-yen mark. The greenback hasn't been this weak against the Japanese currency since February.
Australia's S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.7 percent to 4,427.90, amid expectations that the Reserve Bank of Australia will announce an interest rate cut.
Markets in China, India, Singapore, Taiwan and Indonesia were among those closed for public holidays.
Japanese export shares were punished by the higher yen, which makes Japanese products more expensive overseas. Yamaha Motor Corp. plunged 6.1 percent. Electronics maker Sharp Corp. plummeted 8.3 percent. Copier maker Ricoh Co. lost 4.6 percent.
The Spanish government said Monday that its economy shrank in the first three months of 2011, putting one of the largest economies in Europe into a recession.
Traders are worried that Spain won't be able to cut its budget deficit and may need a bailout. The eurozone's fourth-largest economy may have much more debt than the continent's bailout funds could handle.
U.S. stocks closed lower amid renewed worries about Europe's finances, a drop in Midwestern manufacturing and a slowdown in consumer spending.
The Dow Jones industrial average slipped 0.1 percent to close at 13,213.63. The Standard & Poor's 500 fell 0.4 percent to 1,397.91. The Nasdaq composite fell 0.7 percent to 3,046.36.
The dollar rose to 79.84 yen from 79.81 yen late Monday in New York. The euro was nearly unchanged at $1.3242.
Benchmark oil for June delivery fell 11 cents to $104.76 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 6 cents to end at $104.87 per barrel on the Nymex on Tuesday.
Looking ahead, traders are awaiting U.S. monthly jobs figures for April, to be released Friday, and the second round of France's presidential election on Sunday.
Polls suggest the election will be won by Socialist contender Francois Hollande, who wants to renegotiate a European treaty intended to limit excessive government spending to emphasize growth over austerity. Some investors fear Hollande could upset France's delicate cooperation with Germany, which has been critical to Europe's efforts to resolve its financial crisis.