Money Daily Brief: US trade deficit narrows unexpectedly

Chinese stocks rose 4.76 percent Friday as part of a strong showing across Asia.

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    Chinese investors monitor screens showing stock indexes at a trading house in Shanghai Friday. Chinese shares closed up 4.8 percent, catching up on gains in regional and other overseas markets following the week-long National Day holiday, dealers said.
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– Updated 10:50 EDT (14:50 UTC)

Trade deficit falls: The US trade gap narrowed an unexpected 3.5 percent in August as exports rose and imports dropped. Farm goods and autos and related parts led the export increase while oil imports declined, despite a rise in the price of oil.

China roars: Asian shares showed strong growth Friday, with China's index soaring 4.8 percent at day's end. Japan's Nikkei average also jumped 1.9 percent. The gains amounted to a 14-month high. General Motors announced a 55 percent rise in Chinese sales, totaling nearly 1.3 million vehicles, while a major Chinese industrial company may be finalizing a $150 million deal to purchase former GM unit Hummer.

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Japanese orders up: Core machinery orders rose 0.5 percent in August, up from July's all-time low. The small gain indicated a cautious outlook by companies reluctant to spend despite slight improvements in demand.

South Korean interest rates: A key rate will remain at a record-low 2 percent for the eighth consecutive month, South Korea's central bank announced. The jury is still out as to whether the bank will raise the rate in the short term.

European stocks down: European shares posted small losses after a raft of American economic indicators failed to hit projected marks. Separately, European countries are currently divided about extending antidumping tariffs on Chinese and Vietnamese shoes (subscription required). The measures prevented imports from rising in the beginning of the year, but they have done little to improve exports from European Union shoe producers.

In my backyard: A new Chinese language school opened in Monrovia, capitol of the West African nation of Liberia. As China expands its economic presence in Africa at a breakneck pace, it has also built 23 language schools on the continent.

-- Sarah Burton is a Monitor contributor based in Beijing. On the domestic front, the Obama administration is trumpeting a small victory against home foreclosures.

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