Asian shares gain despite downbeat data

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HONG KONG: Asian shares rose on Friday, tracking gains on Wall Street and in European markets despite downcast eurozone growth data and statistics showing a larger-than-expected rise in US jobless claims.

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Hong Kong gained 0.62 percent, or 153.58 points, to 24,954.94, Shanghai climbed 0.92 percent, or 20.26 points, to 2,226.73, Sydney added 0.32 percent, or 18 points, to 5,566.5, while Tokyo ended flat, edging up 3.77 points to 15,318.34.

Mumbai and Seoul were shut for public holidays.

The rise followed a positive lead from Wall Street, where the Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.37 percent to 16,713.58 on Thursday, extending the prior day’s gains.

Traders shrugged off the rise in initial claims for US unemployment insurance benefits last week that did not alter the still-improving trend in the volatile weekly data.

New jobless claims, a sign of the pace of layoffs, rose to a six-week high of 311,000 in the week ending August 9, up 21,000 from the prior week’s revised 290,000, the Labor Department said.

The four-week moving average was up 2,000 to 295,750, but still reflected an improving jobs market. A year ago the average stood at 335,000 claims.

Investors also appeared to view Thursday’s weak second quarter eurozone growth data—dragged down by Germany and France—as likely to spur the European Central Bank to step in with more stimulus for the 18-nation bloc.

Currency markets were stable on easing concerns over the situation in Ukraine after Russian President Vladimir Putin called for an end to the crisis in the violence-wracked country.

AFP

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