Nikkei gains 0.5 percent Japan’s Nikkei 225 widened gains by mid-morning trade, with index heavyweights providing upward momentum to shrug off disappointing data released before the market open. Industrial production dropped 3.4 percent in February from the previous month, marking the biggest drop since June last year. The result compared with expectations for a 1.8 percent decline and a 3.7 percent gain in January. Fast Retailing, owner of clothes brand Uniqlo, piled on 2.8 percent, while Softbank and Fanuc elevated 0.5 and 0.7 percent each. Among top losers, petroleum and metals conglomerate JX Holdings and Inpex lost more than 3 percent each as US crude fell below $48.50 a barrel in early Asian trading. Mobile game developer Gumi dived 10.3 percent after announcing plans to sell its assets and a 10 percent reduction of its workforce last Friday.
ASIAN MARKET UPDATE