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Asia stocks rise after Dow closes above 13,000

By Pamela Sampson
AP Business Writer / February 28, 2012
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BANGKOK—Asian stock markets rose Wednesday, powered higher by the strongest close for U.S. stocks since before the 2008 financial crisis.

Japan's Nikkei 225 index rose 1.3 percent to 9,846.46 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 0.5 percent to 21,685.33. South Korea's Kospi gained 1.4 percent to 2,031.43. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 rose 1.2 percent to 4,313.90.

Benchmarks in Singapore, Taiwan, Indonesia were also higher. Mainland Chinese shares were little changed.

Surging consumer confidence helped push the Dow to close at 13,005.12 on Tuesday. The last time the benchmark closed above 13,000 was in May 2008, four months before the fall of the Lehman Brothers investment bank and the worst of the financial crisis.

Investors are also anticipating the Federal Reserve's so-called Beige Book report on economic activity which is due Wednesday. The report is expected to reflect a slowly improving U.S. economy.

"A plethora of positive developments helped to buoy markets overnight ... a jump in US consumer confidence to its highest since February 2011 gave equity markets and risk assets in general a lift," said analysts at Credit Agricole CIB in Hong Kong.

Benchmark oil for April delivery was up 25 cents to $106.88 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell by $2.01 to $106.55 per barrel in New York on Tuesday.

In currency trading, the euro rose to $1.3478 from $1.3459 late Tuesday in New York. The dollar fell to 80.50 yen from 80.55 yen.

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