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Asia Stocks Up On US Earnings, Spain Speculation

PAMELA SAMPSON

BANGKOK (AP) â¿¿ Asian stock markets rose Wednesday on better-than-expected earnings from U.S. corporate giants and growing speculation that Spain is finally ready to ask for financial aid.

Spain, mired in a deep recession and high unemployment, has become the latest flashpoint in the two-year European crisis due to fears that its debt problems could spiral out of control.

Investors are hoping that Spain will bite the bullet and ask for financial aid, which Madrid has been reluctant to do because of harsh terms that it might have to agree to in exchange for the help.

"Risk assets registered further gains in the wake of speculation that Spain is close to requesting aid," said analysts at Credit Agricole CIB in Hong Kong in a market commentary. They said that positive economic data and third-quarter earnings from the U.S. also boosted investment sentiment.

Japan's Nikkei 225 rose 1.3 percent to 8,816.88. Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 0.9 percent to 21,386.77 and South Korea's Kospi added 0.8 percent to 1,956.85.

Spain has been granted a 100 billion euros ($130 billion) loan by the 17-nation eurozone to help banks that were decimated by the collapse of the real estate sector.

Last month, the European Central Bank agreed to buy unlimited amounts of debt by struggling European countries to help lower their borrowing costs. But the governments first need to apply for bailout.

Spain has not applied; instead, the government has introduced a series of austerity measures in a bid to bring down its deficit and convince investors it can manage its finances without outside help.

On Wall Street, meanwhile, stocks rose on higher-than-expected third-quarter earnings for Goldman Sachs and several other blue chips. On top of that came a report that consumer prices barely rose last month. That not only gives consumers more money to spend â¿¿ it also leaves the Federal Reserve the room to continue its economy-boosting efforts without the risk of sparking inflation.

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