Asian equity markets ended lower on Friday after Wall Street pulled back from a record overnight, on growing expectations of an interest rate hike by the Federal Reserve at its March 14-15 policy meeting. Japanese shares fell as the yen strengthened after four days of losses and a raft of data painted a mixed picture of the world's third-largest economy. In the latest sign of an uptick in inflation around the world, Japan's core consumer prices rose for the first time in over a year in January. The jobless rate dropped to 3.0 percent from 3.1 percent in December, while household spending fell for the 11th straight month, indicating the country's economic recovery remains fragile. The Markit/Nikkei Japan services PMI slipped to 51.3 in February from 51.9 in January. Further, Chinese shares slipped ahead of the opening of National People's Congress' annual session. While the largely ceremonial legislature is expected to steer clear of dramatic reforms, leaders may announce new measures to rein in debt and tighten oversight of financial markets.
Change in Points
Change in %