Asian shares mixed

HONG KONG - Asian markets were mixed Friday following a Wall Street sell-off, as oil prices hit a nine-month high on concerns about the growing crisis in Iraq but Hong Kong and Shanghai reversed morning losses following upbeat Chinese data.

Tokyo ended up 0.8%, adding 124.31 points to finish at 15,097.84. Shanghai added 0.93%, or 19.00 points, to 2,070.72, while Hong Kong advanced 0.62%, or 144.15 points, to 23,319.17.

Sydney closed 0.44%, or 23.7 points, lower at 5,405.1 and Seoul tumbled 1.03%, or 20.80 points, to 1,990.85.

Taipei was flat, edging down 8.26 points to 9,196.39 and Manila closed 0.36% lower, giving up 24.23 points to 6,784.95.

New York's three main indexes took a hit Thursday on news that jihadists were pushing towards Baghdad after taking a town to the north, following the capture of two Iraqi provincial capitals this week.

The Dow fell 0.65% and the S&P 500 lost 0.71% — both having hit record highs earlier in the week —and the Nasdaq sank 0.79%.

US President Barack Obama raised the prospect of possible air strikes when he said his national security team "is looking at all the options".

Forces from the autonomous Kurdish region have taken control of a swathe of territory they have sought to rule for decades — including the disputed northern oil hub of Kirkuk.

Adding to the fears over more geopolitical instability is the prospect that supplies from a major oil producer could be cut off. And those worries filtered through to crude markets.

US benchmark West Texas Intermediate advanced 73 cents to US$107.26 in afternoon trade after surging $2.13 in New York on Thursday to reach its highest level since September.

Brent North Sea crude gained 36 cents to $113.38 per barrel after shooting up $3.07 in London.

In China the government said industrial output and retail sales accelerated in May, with consumption increasing at its fastest pace since December, suggesting renewed strength in the Asian giant.

Industrial production rose 8.8% year-on-year, up from 8.7% in April and in line with forecasts, while retail sales, a key gauge of consumer spending, increased 12.5%, the highest since the end of last year.

The numbers "signal that China's growth momentum may soon bottom out, despite some downside risks", economists at ANZ Bank said in a research note, also citing an acceleration in export growth announced earlier this week.

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