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Asia Stock Markets Mostly Up After US Rally

By YOUKYUNG LEE

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) â¿¿ Asian stock markets were mostly higher Monday as investors continued to feel confident about stocks following last week's U.S. jobs report and the Wall Street's rally.

Solid corporate earnings reports and expectations that the weaker yen will enhance the bottom line of Japanese exporters also lured investors to stocks.

Japan's Nikkei 225 closed its morning trading session 0.5 percent higher at 11,245.37. Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.5 percent to 23,848 while South Korea's Kospi opened higher before turning slightly lower at 1,957.11. Stocks in Singapore, Taiwan, the Philippines and Indonesia were also up.

Shares in mainland China were mixed and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 declined 0.2 percent to 4,910.40.

Last week, the Dow Jones industrial average closed above 14,000 on Friday for the first time in more than five years as investors became less risk-averse following solid economic indicators from the U.S. and Europe.

U.S. government revised upward how many people were hired in the last two years â¿¿ adding an upbeat note to earlier news that Europe saw a lower-than-expected unemployment rate in December.

These indicators whetted investor appetite for risky assets, assuring them that the U.S. economic recovery is not losing steam and that the slump in eurozone economic activity might be bottoming out.

Among individual stocks, shares of Panasonic Corp. skyrocketed more than 17 percent after the company reported a surprise profit for the three months ending in December. Sony Corp. also saw its shares soar 9.5 percent.

South Korean exporters Samsung Electronics Co. and LG Electronics Inc. saw their shares fall 0.6 percent and 1 percent respectively, as the stronger won threatens to erode their overseas revenues.

Benchmark oil for March delivery fell 20 cents to $97.56 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 28 cents to finish at $97.77 a barrel on the Nymex on Friday.

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