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Asian Shares Higher As Weaker Yen Lifts Nikkei

PAMELA SAMPSON

BANGKOK (AP) â¿¿ World stock markets were mostly higher Wednesday, with Japan's Nikkei breezing to a new 10-month high as a weaker yen helped exports and traders booked profits following some strong earnings reports.

Oil prices rose to near $85 a barrel after a report showed U.S. crude supplies unexpectedly fell last week, suggesting demand may be improving. In currencies, the dollar was lower against the yen and the euro.

In early European trading, Britain's FTSE 100 rose 0.5 percent to 6,067.83. Germany's DAX was up 0.4 percent to 7,428.71 while France's CAC-40 was 0.9 percent higher to 4,145.71. Wall Street was headed for a higher opening, with Dow Jones industrial futures up 0.3 percent to 12,238 and S&P 500 futures up 0.4 percent to 1,331.30.

The Nikkei 225 stock average in Tokyo added 0.6 percent to close at 10,808.29 â¿¿ its highest level since April 30. Exporters, including electronics makers, rose as a more robust dollar hovered in the upper 83-yen range. Toshiba Corp. rose 3.2 percent, Sony Corp. was up 2.6 percent and Sharp Corp. was 2.9 percent higher.

A weaker yen raises the value of exporters' profits overseas and makes Japanese goods less expensive in foreign markets.

"There's quite a high correlation between the yen and the Nikkei," said Peter Elston, a strategist at Aberdeen Asset Management in Singapore. "The yen goes down â¿¿ that's good for exporters."

Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 1.1 percent to 23,156.97. Mainland Chinese shares rose, led by a rally in auto, steel and machinery companies in the afternoon.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.85 percent to 2,923.90, while the Shenzhen Composite Index rose 1.7 percent to 1,283.26.

Changan Autos rose 1.4 percent, while FAW Car Co. rose 1.6 percent.

"Auto company shares were buoyed by the strong sales at the end of last year, but that will not last for too long," said Wang Ren, an analyst at Ping'an Securities, in Shenzhen.

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