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Asian stocks mostly rise, euro holds gains

Asian markets mostly rose on Friday (25 July) following another record close on Wall Street, while the euro dug in against the dollar and yen after rebounding from multi-month lows. 

HONG KONG - Asian markets mostly rose on Friday (25 July) following another record close on Wall Street, while the euro dug in against the dollar and yen after rebounding from multi-month lows. Investors were still upbeat after Thursday's strong manufacturing data from China as well as the eurozone, which lifted hopes for the global economy.

Tokyo rallied 1.13 percent, or 173.45 points, to a six-month high of 15,457.87 thanks to a weakening yen, while Seoul rose 0.36 percent, or 7.23 points, to close at 2,033.85. Shanghai added 1.02 percent, or 21.55 points, to 2,126.61 and Hong Kong rose 0.31 percent, or 74.51 points, to 24,216.01. However, Sydney was a touch lower, dipping 4.3 points to 5,583.5 after hitting six-year highs in the week.

Regional traders were still in an upbeat mood after HSBC said Thursday that its index of manufacturing activity in China had hit an 18-month high, the latest sign of an uptick in the Asian economic giant.

In New York the S&P 500 closed at an all-time high for the second straight session after data showed new claims for US unemployment insurance slid to an eight-year low last week. The news is the latest sign that the recovery in the world's top economy is well on track.

However, the Commerce Department released figures showing sales of new single-family houses fell 8.1 percent in June, tempering the positive vibe. While the S&P 500 ended marginally higher, the Dow and Nasdaq dipped slightly.

EURO RECOVERS

On currency markets the euro bought 137.02 yen in Asian afternoon trade, against 137.07 yen in New York and much stronger than the 136.55 yen in Tokyo on Thursday. The single currency also fetched US$1.3460 on Friday against US$1.3464 in US trade. It had tumbled to an eight-month low of US$1.3445 on Thursday in Asia.

The unit had taken a hit this week owing to fears about the knock-on effect of planned fresh sanctions against Moscow for its support of anti-government rebels in Ukraine who the US blame for shooting down a Malaysian airliner last week. But it rebounded on Thursday after private research firm Markit said its index of manufacturing activity in the region jumped in July.

The firm's purchasing managers index (PMI) hit 54 this month, preliminary figures show, compared with 52.8 in June. A figure above 50 points to growth in the sector while anything below suggests contraction. However, Markit warned that the crisis in Ukraine was still clouding the outlook.

In other foreign exchange deals the US dollar fetched 101.90 yen, a tad down from 101.81 yen in New York but well up from 101.47 yen in Tokyo earlier Thursday.

Oil prices were lower. US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for September delivery dipped seven cents to US$102 a barrel in afternoon trade, while Brent crude gained three cents to US$107.08.

Gold fetched US$1,292.42 an ounce by 0800GMT compared with US$1,298.30 late Thursday.

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