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Asia shares mixed on lackluster China data; Japan buoyed by yen, Seibu IPO

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TOKYO — Shares were mixed in Asia on Wednesday, as weak data from China sapped upward momentum from an overnight rally on a flurry of deals in the pharmaceutical sector.

A preliminary survey of Chinese manufacturers by HSBC showed slight improvements in prices and demand, but contractions in new export orders and employment in April. The results were expected, but helped pull Hong Kong's Hang Seng index down 0.6 percent to 22,592.41. Shares in mainland China also fell.

But Japan's Nikkei 225 index gained 0.6 percent to 14,470.54 as export manufacturers' shares advanced on the relative weakness of the yen.

Sentiment was also buoyed by a solid start for Seibu Holdings Inc. whose shares rose 5 percent in the morning after an initial public offering in its relisting on the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

Elsewhere in Asia, Korea's Kospi fell 0.2 percent to 2,000.54. Shares rose in Australia, New Zealand but lost ground in Indonesia, Taiwan and Singapore.

Overnight, U.S. financial data and corporate earnings helped spur gains from deals by Switzerland's Novartis with Britain's GlaxoSmithKline PLC and the Eli Lilly & Co. of the U.S.

The deal-making could herald further restructuring in the fast-changing industry, given recent moves by Pfizer to take over AstraZeneca and by Canadian drugmaker Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. to bid for Botox maker Allergan.

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 0.4 percent to 16,514.37 while the broader S&P 500 index also rose 0.4 percent, to 1,879.55.

In Europe, the FTSE 100 index of leading British shares closed up 0.8 percent at 6,681.76 with GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca leading the way. Germany's DAX was boosted by drug stocks Merck and Bayer, gaining 2 percent at 9,600.09. And France's CAC-40 climbed 1.2 percent higher at 4,484.21.

In the currency markets, the mood was fairly flat with the euro steady at $1.3718, compared with 1.3807 late Tuesday. The dollar was trading at 102.56 yen, compared with 102.62 yen late Tuesday.

Crude oil for May delivery fell 19 cents to $101.56 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

The contract closed at $101.75 on Tuesday, down $1.90 from its previous close of $103.65.

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