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China growth, Europe hopes aid Asia shares

HONG KONG--Asian markets climbed Thursday as dealers welcomed news that China's economy grew in-line with forecasts, while confidence was also lifted by more upbeat U.S. data and hopes for the eurozone.

Soothing comments on the economy from Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on Wednesday also provided support, while dealers looked ahead to a European Union summit set to begin later in the day.

Shanghai rose 1.24 percent, or 26.07 points, to 2,131.69 while Hong Kong added 0.48 percent, or 102.07 points, to 21,518.71.

Tokyo closed 2.00 percent higher, adding 176.31 points to 8,982.86 as a weakening yen boosted exporters, while Sydney gained 0.69 percent, adding 31.2 points to 4,559.4 and Seoul advanced 0.20 percent, or 3.97 points, to 1,959.12.

China said its economy grew 7.4 percent in the third quarter to the end of September, easing for a seventh straight quarter and underscoring its weakest performance since the global financial crisis.

However, the figure matched expectations, while other economic data pointed to a possible bottoming out of the economy, which has been severely hit this year by troubles in its key export markets of Europe and the United States.

Growth in the quarter was the slowest since 6.6 percent recorded in the first three months of 2009 during the global financial crisis.

The economy grew 7.6 percent in the second quarter of 2012.

But industrial output rose a better-than-expected 9.2 percent year on year in September, while retail sales, the main gauge of consumer spending, rose 14.2 percent in September.

The figures follow data at the weekend showing exports, which have seen a steep drop in recent months, surged almost 10 percent in September.

“The latest data supports our hypothesis that the economy may have bottomed and will turn for the better in the fourth quarter,” Zheng Pin, an analyst with Minsheng Securities, told Dow Jones Newswires.

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