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World stocks mixed after Japan announces record trade deficit

BEIJING--Global stocks were mixed Monday in light trading after Japan reported a record annual trade deficit and investors looked ahead to economic data this week from China and South Korea.

The regional heavyweight, Tokyo's Nikkei 225 index, edged down 0.03 percent to 14,512.38 after Japan's trade deficit widened by nearly 70 percent in the year ending March 31. It was Japan's third straight year of deficit.

China's benchmark Shanghai Composite Index shed 1.5 percent to 2,065.83. Investors are waiting for the preliminary version of HSBC Corp.'s survey of Chinese manufacturing due out Wednesday for signs of whether an economic slowdown has bottomed out.

The flash purchasing managers' index “will be closely watched after a raft of mixed (but mostly soft) data,” Mizuho Bank said in a report. “Potential for upside resides more in stimulus prospects rather than activity pick-up.”

Markets in Germany and France were closed for Easter.

Seoul's Kospi lost 0.2 percent to 1,999.22. South Korea is to report data on Thursday that are expected to show economic growth slowed in the first quarter.

Singapore was flat while Manila and Jakarta rose. Markets in Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong were closed for the Easter holiday.

With markets in most of Europe and the United States closed on Friday and Monday, business was thin as investors look ahead to the release this week of preliminary manufacturing data from around the world as well as U.S. retail and house price figures.

This week will see the start of corporate reporting for the first three months of 2014, with investors paying close attention to Japanese firms' outlook following the sales tax rise, which critics fear could derail the economy's young recovery.

“It's difficult to project an impact from the consumption tax increase. Companies are likely to report conservative guidance,” Shigeo Sugawara, senior investment officer at Sompo Japan Nipponkoa Asset Management, told Dow Jones Newswires.

In China the stock regulator at the weekend said several firms were planning IPOs, state media reported, sparking worries that floodgates were opening after a two-month pause in new listings.

Gold fetched US$1,286.69 an ounce at 0710 GMT, compared with US$1,289.90 on Friday.

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