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Asia Shares End Higher on Upbeat China Data

Asian stocks rose on Friday after a slew of Chinese data showed the world's third-largest economy is on a brisk recovery path, fueling optimism that the global recovery is on track.

Japan's Nikkei Average rose 2.5 percent, snapping a three-day slide, as the yen retreated against the dollar and helped exporters such as TDK Corp extend gains made after improving U.S. job trends boosted Wall Street.

Data showing that China's economy is on a brisk recovery path added to the overall positive tone although the figures themselves were mostly as expected, with some China-linked shares
such as Hitachi Construction gaining as a result.

The Nikkei rose 245.05 points to 10,107.87 for its second positive week in a row, while the broader Topix.

Seoul shares reversed earlier losses to end 0.25 percent higher on Friday, helped by solid gains in steelmakers and brokerages, but falls in banking and retail issues including KB Financial Group weighed.

The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) finished up 0.25 percent at 1,656.90 points.

Australian stocks rose 0.6 percent on Friday, recovering from five sessions of losses, as
stronger-than-expected economic data from China reinforced the rosy outlook for local resource firms.

But banking stocks were mostly weaker on profit-taking and turnover remained lacklustre as investors wound down ahead of Christmas. For the week, the market closed down 1.4 percent.

Chinese industrial production grew by 19.2 percent in November, its highest since June 2007, suggesting demand for Australian resources will remain strong.

But the upbeat data failed to lift the Shanghai Composite index on fears the government may curb speculation in the country's property market. The index closed down 0.2 percent at 3,247.31 points.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index gained 28.5 points to 4,635.2. The index fell 3.5 percent in the previous five days.

Local retail stocks recovered from Thursday's declines, with investors torn between the positive boost to sales from robust employment growth and the negative impact of resulting higher interest rates.

Electricals retailer Harvey Norman jumped 3.5 percent to A$4.20 and department store Myer Holdings advanced 0.8 points to A$3.83.

The major banks ended weaker, with the exception of top lender National Australia Bank which rose 0.8 percent to A$28.21.

Biodiesel company Mission NewEnergy jumped 21.1 percent to A$0.43 after signing a supply deal with Valero Energy Corp. Oil refiner Valero was also given the rights to buy up to 25 percent of Mission at A$0.45 a share.

Gold firms were higher after bullion prices recovered, with Newcrest Mining rising 0.5 percent to A$35.02 and Lihir Gold adding 1.6 percent to A$3.24.

The Hang Seng Index and Taiwan Weighted Index closed up 0.9 percent and 1.5 percent respectively. But Hong Kong-listed Lenovo shares ended down despite the PC maker saying it was open to acquisitions in Brazil.

Esprit Holdings also gained ground despite news the retailer will cut down on the number of new stores it has planned for the current fiscal year. Cathay Pacific rose after the airline and Dragonair said they carried 1.2 percent more passengers in November.

In South east Asia, Singapore and Malaysia were both in positive territory. The Straits Times Index ended up 0.7 percent with Transcu gaining on news of a $51.8 million investment in the company. The KLCI closed flat as Malaysia's state fund Khazanah cut its stake in utility firm Tenaga via a share placement.

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