Word from International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde that the institution will lift its forecast for U.S. growth helps sentiment ahead of the Christmas break. Over in China, three out of four mainland indices post gains after nine days of losses due to surging money market rates, while leading wireless services operator China Mobile Ltd. strikes a long-awaited deal to distribute Apple Inc.'s iPhones to through its store network in a move which will challenge Chinese smartphone leader Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd.

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