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The Journal Gazette

Thursday, April 12, 2012 11:56 pm

Asia stock markets rise as NKorea rocket fails

By ELAINE KURTENBACHAP Business Writer

Asian shares climbed Friday, shrugging off China's growth slowdown after U.S. markets rose and North Korea's rocket launch failed.

South Korea's Kospi jumped 0.9 percent to 2,003.81, rebounding from losses earlier in the week after the North's rocket launch ended in failure Friday when it exploded shortly after takeoff.

Tensions had risen as North Korea pushed ahead with the launch despite protests from the U.S., South Korea and other countries that deemed it a missile test. Pyongyang said it was to put into orbit a satellite commemorating the anniversary of its founder's birth.

Boosted by that news, Asian markets shrugged off data showing that China's economy grew at an 8.1 percent pace in January-March, its slowest in nearly three years.

Tokyo's Nikkei 225 climbed 1.3 percent to 9,644.15. Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 1.5 percent to 20,631.17.

Mainland Chinese shares were higher on expectations for further measures to boost the economy. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index edged up less than 0.1 percent to 2,351.44. The smaller Shenzhen Composite Index added 0.3 percent to 947.96.

"The GDP data is within earlier expectations and both policy and the economy are stable. Even if the slowdown is obvious, growth is still above the government's target," said Li Jianfeng, an analyst at Caida Securities, based in Shanghai. The government's annual growth target is 7.5 percent.

Overnight, U.S. shares bounced back from a five-day slump. The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 1.4 percent to close at 12,986.58, its second biggest gain this year.

Suggestions that the European Central Bank may resume purchases of bonds of financially weak countries to help keep yields low and reduce borrowing costs also helped counter worries over possible crises in Italy and Spain.

France's CAC-40 rose 1 percent to close at 3,268, while Germany's DAX moved up the same rate to 6,743. The FTSE index of leading British shares surged 1.3 percent to 5,710.

In currency dealings, the euro was marginally higher, rising 0.1 percent to $1.3170. The dollar inched up to 81.10 yen.

Concerns persist that high energy prices - driven in part by unrest in the Middle East - could weigh on any economic recovery. Benchmark oil was down 30 cents to $103.33 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose by 94 cents to finish at $103.64 on Thursday.

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Researcher Fu Ting in Shanghai contributed to this report.