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Asia Stock Markets Up As Dow Logs Strong January

"With eurozone economic activity seemingly bottoming out last October and business confidence picking up, the pressure on labor markets has eased," said Howard Archer, chief European economist at HIS Global Insight.

"Nevertheless, business confidence is still relatively low in most countries and eurozone economic activity is unlikely to be strong enough to prevent further rises in unemployment over the coming months."

Earlier in Asia, stocks were mixed after manufacturing data from China fell short of expectations. Industrial production is still growing, but at a slower pace, according to the government-sanctioned China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing. Its manufacturing index for January fell to 50.4 from 50.6 in December on a 100-point scale in which numbers above 50 indicate expansion.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell marginally to 23,721.84. South Korea's Kospi dropped 0.2 percent to 1,957.79. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.9 percent to 4,921.10. The ASX closed at 4,879 on Thursday, capping its best January since 1995, Lucas said.

Japan's Nikkei 225, meanwhile, was once again energized by the yen's continued descent against the dollar. The index rose 0.5 percent to 11,191.34.

Benchmark oil for March delivery was up 46 cents to $97.95 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 45 cents to close at $97.49 a barrel on the Nymex on Thursday.

In currencies, euro rose to $1.3701 from $1.3574 late Thursday in New York. The dollar rose to 92.51 yen from 91.38 yen.

___

Pamela Sampson in Bangkok contributed to this report.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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