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Asia Falls After Japan Inflation Data

Asia-Pacific markets mostly fell on Friday after Japan’s May core inflation data came in slightly cooler than expected, jeopardizing the country’s plans to raise interest rates.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 index eased 36.55 points, or 0.1%, to 38,596.47.

The country’s core inflation rate — which strips out prices of fresh food — came in at 2.5%. A Reuters poll of economists expected the May core inflation reading to come in at 2.6%, compared with April’s 2.2%.

The so-called “core-core” inflation, which strips out prices of fresh food and energy, came in at 2.1%. This is lower than April’s reading of 2.4%. The metric is considered by the Bank of Japan when formulating the country’s monetary policy.

Japan’s headline rate rose to 2.8%, higher than April’s figure of 2.5%.

Softbank — the third heaviest weighted stock on the index — saw shares drop 3.14% after Softbank Group CEO Masayoshi Son said the company needed “immense capital” to develop AI robotics.

The yen weakened for a seventh straight day, declining to 158.95 against the U.S. dollar.

Japan’s chief currency diplomat, Masato Kanda, said the government was ready to make a move against the volatile currency market that has hurt the economy, Reuters reported.

The U.S. Treasury Department placed Japan on its currency “Monitoring List,” but did not classify it as a currency manipulator.

Separately, Korea announced that her finance minister and that of Japan would meet on Tuesday to discuss bilateral and multilateral cooperation, as well as their views on the global economy. The meeting will be held two months after both parties agreed to manage excessive currency volatilities during their meeting in Washington.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index fell 306.86 points, or 1.7%, to 18,028.52.

In other markets

In Shanghai, the CSI 300 declined 7.66 points, or 0.2%, to 3,495.62.

In Singapore, the Straits Times Index recovered 6.02 points, or 0.2%, to 3,306.02.

In Korea, the Kospi index subtracted 23.37 points, or 0.8%, to 2,784,26.

In Taiwan, the Taiex index crumpled 152.71 points, or 0.7%, to 23,253.39.

In New Zealand, the NZX 50 erased 89.42 points, or 0.8%, to 11,682.39.

In Australia, the ASX 200 gained 26.54 points, or 0.3%, to 7,795.97.