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Stagnant markets amid slowdown fear

Asian stock markets have become stagnant as investors evaluated the prospects of a global economic slowdown.

Japan's Nikkei 225 index rose 0.2% to 10,031.37 as the yen slipped against the dollar, helping the country's powerhouse export sector.

Elsewhere, however, markets began the week in negative territory after reports in China and Europe last week pointed to a likely slowdown in those economies.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index slipped as investors contemplated what the selection of Leung Chun-ying as the semi-autonomous Chinese territory's next chief executive might mean to economic growth for the city, an Asian financial centre. The Hang Seng fell marginally to 20,661.36.

South Korea's Kospi index fell 0.5% to 2,016.50. Australia's S&P ASX/200 rose 0.2% to 4,278.

Benchmarks in Singapore and Taiwan also fell. Indonesia and New Zealand were higher.

Commodity-sector companies rose as the dollar weakened. Since commodities are priced in dollars, a weaker dollar makes them cheaper for traders who use other currencies.

Jiangxi Copper added 0.3% in Hong Kong. Energy Resources of Australia gained 2.3%.

The Dow closed up 0.3% at 13,080.73 as investors shrugged off a Commerce Department report that sales of new homes fell 1.6% last month. Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 0.3% to 1,397.11. The Nasdaq composite climbed 0.1% to 3,067.92.

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