Japan shares open higher

Tokyo, Feb 16 (AFP) Japanese shares opened highertoday after US stocks dropped as investors mulled mixedeconomic data and signs of building inflationary pressures.

The Nikkei index on the Tokyo Stock Exchange added12.19 points, or 0.11 per cent, to 10,758.86 in the first fewminutes of trading.

Dealers said the Nikkei is likely to be supported by aweaker yen, although gains may be somewhat offset by a declinein overnight US stocks.

"If foreign investor buying continues to be strong,there is a possibility for the Nikkei to test the 10,800level," Kazuhiro Takahashi, general manager at DaiwaSecurities Capital Markets, told Dow Jones Newswires.

The dollar was at 83.71 yen in early Tokyo trade,slightly easing from 83.77 in New York yesterday. The eurofirmed to USD1.3497, compared with USD1.3488 in New York, and113.00 from 112.97.

A US Federal Reserve report showed manufacturingactivity in the New York region accelerated in February to itshighest level since June.

Import prices rose more than expected, by 1.5 percent, in January, lifted by surging oil prices, the US LaborDepartment said. Prices were 5.3 per cent higher than inJanuary 2010, the sharpest gain since May.

US retail sales, a key indicator of the consumerspending that motors two-thirds of the economy, slowed to aweaker-than-expected 0.3 per cent rise in January, but severesnow storms across much of the country appeared to be afactor.

Wall Street also weighed in on the finalised deal forGermany''s Deutsche Boerse to buy the New York Stock Exchange,creating the world''s biggest stock exchange.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 41.55 points, or0.34 per cent, to close at 12,226.64, while the tech-heavyNasdaq dropped 12.83 points, or 0.46 per cent, to 2,804.35.

The broad-market S&P 500 index shed 4.31 points, or0.32 per cent, at 1,328.01. (AFP)

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