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Stocks Gain On Economic Indicators, US Earnings

By PAMELA SAMPSON

BANGKOK (AP) â¿¿ Japan's benchmark stock index jumped Friday as the yen continued to retreat against the dollar and investors cheered the new government's plans to boost the economy. Other Asian stock markets were mixed.

Evan Lucas of IG Markets in Melbourne said he expect to see surges in Japan's Nikkei 225 index after Yasutoshi Nishimura, a senior vice minister of the Japanese government's Cabinet Office, commented that the yen would fall further. The Nikkei in Tokyo rose 2 percent to 10,832.48.

The recent decline in the yen's value against the dollar and drops against other major currencies have been driven by expectations that Japan's central bank will try to engineer inflation by increasing the amount of money in circulation.

The bank has been under pressure from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who took office a month ago, to do more to end Japan's prolonged spell of falling prices known as deflation. The ultimate aim is to create a recovery for Japan's moribund economy.

South Korea's Kospi fell amid fears that the exporters could be slammed by Japan's dropping yen, which makes Japanese products less expensive overseas. The benchmark fell 1.1 percent to 1,943.82. Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 0.2 percent to 23,550.21. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.4 percent to 4,829.40.

Europe's stock markets were broadly higher Thursday amid signs the continent's services and manufacturing slump was easing. Surveys showing a smaller-than-forecast contraction in both manufacturing and services in the 17-country eurozone this month.

Markets shrugged off news from Germany's banking sector, where Commerzbank said it planned as many as 6,000 job cuts over the next three years. The country's second-largest bank, which was bailed out by the government in 2009, expects to cut between 4,000 and 6,000 jobs by 2016.

Grim employment data in Spain also failed to dent markets optimism. Spain's unemployment rate shot up to a record 26.02 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012, leaving almost 6 million Spaniards out of work, the country's statistics agency said.

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