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Asian stocks close higher after strong US jobs report

LONDON/HONG KONG -- Asian stock markets were mostly higher Friday after the U.S. reported strong hiring for June. European markets faded after being boosted by the jobs data the day before.

U.S. markets are closed for the Fourth of July holiday, leading to relatively muted trading elsewhere.

European stocks fell slightly on Friday as traders paused after the previous day's solid gains that followed forecast-busting U.S. jobs data, dealers said.

London's benchmark FTSE 100 index reversed 0.05 percent to 6,862.18 points approaching midday.

The Paris CAC 40 slid 0.19 percent to 4,481.12 points and Frankfurt's DAX 30 lost 0.12 percent to 10,018.14 compared with Thursday's close.

The euro declined to US$1.3591 from US$1.3609 late on Thursday in New York, while the pound jumped to a new six-year dollar peak on expectations of a British interest rate hike.

Asian stock markets mostly rose after the strong U.S. jobs report for June boosted a major Wall Street index to a record high.

The Nikkei 225 average, the benchmark for the Tokyo Stock Exchange, gained 0.6 percent to finish at 15,437.13 while Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 0.1 percent to 23,546.36.

“The big factor was the rise in the U.S. market,” said Yutaka Miura, senior technical analyst at Mizuho Securities Co. in Tokyo.

On Thursday, the Dow Jones industrial average was buoyed by the jobs figures and topped 17,000 for the first time, another in a string of records for the index that has lifted portfolios in a five-year bull market for stocks.

The government reported that U.S. employers added 288,000 workers to their payrolls in June and the unemployment rate fell to 6.1 percent. The U.S. economy is now creating about 231,000 jobs each month in 2014, compared to roughly 194,000 a month last year.

The jobs report is the latest piece of data to show the world's biggest economy continues to improve steadily. Also helping stocks are solid corporate earnings and continued support from central banks.

The Kospi in South Korea was little changed at 2,009.66. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 added 0.6 percent to 5,525.Markets in Southeast Asia were also higher.

The long weekend appeared to have kept overseas players away, and trading volume was low, said Miura.

“There was buying at first but then the momentum didn't keep up,” he said of Friday's trading.

Shanghai slipped 0.19 percent, or 3.85 points, to 2,059.38 and in the afternoon Hong Kong was barely unchanged. Wellington gained 0.42 percent, or 21.51 points, to 5,188.91.

Gold fetched US$1,322.84 an ounce at 0725 GMT compared with US$1,321.07 late Thursday.

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A board over the trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange shows the closing number for the Dow Jones industrial average, Thursday, July 3. The Dow Jones industrial average topped 17,000 for the first time on Thursday, the index's first big 1,000-point milestone this year, following news that hiring in the U.S. accelerated last month. (AP)

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