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TheStreet Open House

Markets Roiled By Oil Price Spike, Portugal Woes

By KAY JOHNSON

BANGKOK (AP) â¿¿ Encouraging news on the US economy boosted most Asian stock markets Thursday as investors followed Wall Street's lead in shrugging off political turmoil in Egypt and worrying developments in Europe's debt crisis.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng led the modest rally, jumping 1.8 percent to 20,508.02 after reports that fewer Americans sought unemployment benefits last week and ADP, a payrolls processor, said that businesses added more jobs last month than analysts had expected.

China's Shanghai Composite rose 1 percent to 2,013.49. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 was up 0.9 percent to 4,786.60. Jakarta's JSX was up 1.3 percent to 4,638.11 while South Korea's Kospi edged up 0.3 percent to 1,830.52.

The employment news, added to a muted report on U.S. manufacturing growth, was good enough to restore confidence that the American economic recovery s is on track â¿¿ but probably not strong enough yet for the Federal Reserve to pull back on its stimulus program.

With Wall Street closed on Thursday for the Independence Day holiday, investors will be watching the U.S. government's jobs report Friday in hopes of figuring out what the Federal Reserve will do next.

Over the past few weeks, markets have sputtered amid speculation that the Fed might taper off its policy of buying $85 billion in bonds every month to keep interest rates low and encourage spending.

"We have had a period of extreme volatility, and now we have some settling going on," said Lorraine Tan, director at Standard & Poor's equity research in Singapore. "I think there's a realization that the reaction may have been overdone."

Tokyo's Nikkei 225 bucked Thursday's trend, edging down 0.1 percent to 14,046.85. Taiwain's TAIEX was also nearly flat, up 0.1 percent to 7,914.35.

Asia's mild rally came after Wall Street also entered positive territory, despite Egypt's political crisis and worries over Europe's dormant debt crisis erupting again.

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