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Tokyo stocks lead rebound in Asian market

HONG KONG--Tokyo stocks led a rebound on Asian markets Friday, reversing losses in the previous session as regional bourses took their cue from Wall Street, which shrugged off disappointing economic data.

Asian markets were mostly heading for a strong finish to the week, after a downturn Thursday triggered by a trio of gloomy figures from China, the U.S. and Japan that cast a pall over the economic outlook.

Tokyo stocks closed up 2.88 percent, regaining ground lost the previous day as the yen weakened, giving a boost to exporters. The Nikkei-225 index, which fell 2.15 percent Thursday, added 416.49 points to finish at 14,865.67.

Sydney gained 0.49 percent, or 26.4 points, to close at 5,438.7 and Seoul shares jumped 1.41 percent, or 27.26 points, to 1,957.83. Hong Kong shares also took heart from the U.S. rally, closing up 0.78 percent, or 174.16 points, to 22,568.24.

But Chinese shares extended their losses in afternoon trade, as concerns lingered over the health of the economy after a much-watched index on Thursday showed Chinese manufacturing activity at a seven-month low.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index dropped 1.17 percent, or 25.09 points, to close at 2,113.69 and the Shenzhen Composite Index, which tracks stocks on China's second exchange, slipped 0.37 percent, or 4.26 points, to 1,135.01.

“The market may remain under pressure in coming sessions, and for any breakthrough trading volumes will have to pick up a lot especially when there are no cues — policy or data-wise,” Shenyin Wanguo analyst Li Xiaoxuan told Dow Jones Newswires.

Britain's FTSE 100 rose 0.4 percent to 6,843.30 and Germany's DAX climbed 0.1 percent to 9,630.43. France's CAC 40 added 0.1 percent to 4,359.37.

The dollar rallied against the yen in Asian trade on the back of mixed U.S. data, while weak eurozone manufacturing pressured the euro.

In afternoon Tokyo trade, the greenback rose to 102.60 yen from 102.32 yen in New York Thursday, in tandem with a three percent rally for Tokyo's Nikkei stock index.

The euro also rose to 140.73 yen against 140.37 yen in U.S. trade, while it was unchanged at US$1.3718, after a key measure of eurozone business activity weakened slightly.

“Discouraging external data has been responsible for the lack of buying support for Japan shares over the last several weeks,” said Mutsumi Kagawa, senior global strategist at Tokai Tokyo Research Center.

“Investors are most keen to know whether the recent apparent lull in the U.S. economic recovery is really due to data skewed by bad weather or needs to be taken more seriously.

“It will take more time to confirm,” he told Dow Jones Newswires.

U.S. stocks rallied to a near record high Thursday, as investors chalked up disappointing construction and unemployment figures to the impact of the severe winter.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.58 percent, or 92.67 points, to 16,133.23.

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