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Asia stocks rise on US economic data, budget talks

Asian stock markets posted gains on optimism over a pair of positive US economic reports and growing expectations that Washington will resolve a budget impasse before the end of the year.

twitter-logoAssociated Press | November 30, 2012 | Updated 10:11 IST

Asian stock markets posted gains on Friday on optimism over a pair of positive US economic reports and growing expectations that Washington will resolve a budget impasse before the end of the year.

Meanwhile, the release of an 880.3 billion yen ($10.7 billion) stimulus package by the Japanese government helped boost the Nikkei 225 index in Tokyo. The benchmark rose 0.8 per cent to 9,480.26 in early trading.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 0.7 per cent to 22,059.10 and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 advanced 0.8 per cent to 4,512.90. South Korea's Kospi was nearly unchanged at 1,934.73. Benchmarks in Taiwan, Singapore and New Zealand also rose.

Investment sentiment was boosted by signs of improvement in the world's No. 1 economy.

The Commerce Department raised its estimate of third-quarter growth to an annual rate of 2.7 per cent - much better than the 2 per cent rate estimated a month ago.

Additionally, the number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits dropped by 23,000 to 393,000 last week, the Labor Department said. The figures were in line with expectations.

Analysts said the focus of attention will likely remain on the US in coming weeks, especially now that countries that use the euro and the International Monetary Fund have agreed to carry on funding nearly bankrupt Greece.

Benchmark oil for January delivery was down 35 cents to $87.72 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose $1.58 to close at $88.07 on Thursday on the Nymex.

In currencies, the euro rose to $1.2997 from $1.2972 Thursday in New York. The dollar rose to 82.44 yen from 82.15 yen.

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