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Shanghai, Tokyo shares scale new highs in choppy session

After a lackluster morning session, Asian stocks mostly advanced on Friday, with Tokyo, Shanghai and Sydney markets finishing the week at new highs.

Overnight, U.S. stocks closed mixed as the Fed-inspired rally lost steam amid a stronger dollar. The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 closed down 0.7 and 0.5 percent, respectively, while the Nasdaq settled up 0.2 percent.

Global markets had cheered the Federal Reserve's statement in the previous session, which hinted that the central bank might not pull the trigger on interest rates until later in the year.

Asia-Pacific Market Indexes Chart

Mainland bourses mixed

China's Shanghai Composite made a sudden surge in the afternoon session, charging 1 percent to close at its highest level since May 2008.

Financials were among the most actively-traded stocks on the bourse. Agricultural Bank of China rallied 2 percent, while brokerages likeCitic Securities and Haitong Securities jumped 9 and 5.9 percent each.

Shares of the country's second-biggest insurer Ping An Insurance surged 3.5 percent in Shanghai and 4.1 percent in Hong Kong on the back of a 39.5 percent rise in profit last year.

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Hong Kong's key Hang Seng index sagged 0.4 percent as traders digest a raft of corporate earnings.

Li & Fung tanked 7.4 percent after an 11.8 percent fall in 2014 profit, while China Mobile lost nearly 2 percent as last year's net profit fell more than 10 percent, its largest annual drop in over a decade.

Swire Properties receded 2.3 percent despite its underlying profit rose 12.7 percent in 2014, hitting 7.15 billion Hong Kong dollars, versus a year-ago profit of HK$6.35 billion.

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Nikkei up 0.4%

Japan's Nikkei 225 index ended the week at a fresh 15-year high of 19,560 after wavering between gains and losses amid the yen's rise against the U.S. dollar.

Online retailer Rakuten elevated 3.6 percent on news that it is acquiring U.S. eBook company OverDrive for about $410 million. Yahoo Japan also soared 6.3 percent after announcing a dividend hike.

However, recent top performers such as Fanuc and Nintendo sagged 1.6 and 6.6 percent each on profit-taking. Nissan Motor slipped 0.4 percent, failing to get a lift from news that it saw a 21.3 on-year rise in Asia and Oceania sales for February.

Meanwhile, minutes of the Bank of Japan's (BoJ) policy meeting showed policy makers debating the effect of its massive asset purchases on the bond market. The BoJ kept its massive monetary policy stimulus intact on Tuesday, as widely expected.

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ASX adds 0.4%

Helped by a reverse in direction among index heavyweights, Australia's S&P ASX 200 index widened advances in the afternoon session to finish at a two-and-a-half-week high of 5,975.

The resources sector turned mixed in the afternoon session thereby lifting the bourse; Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals rebounded 0.5 percent each. Oil-related counters such as Woodside Petroleum and Santos also rebounded 1.1 and 2.4 percent, respectively.

Shares of APN News & Media outperformed the bourse with a 5 percent rally after Rupert Murdoch's New York-listed News Corp said it's increasing its stake in the Australian media company Thursday.

Meanwhile, Reserve Bank of Australia governor Glenn Stevens said Australia's transition away from a mining-led growth remains a "bumpy one." The governor had been giving a speech at the American Chamber of Commerce in Melbourne earlier in the day.

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Kospi flat

South Korea's Kospi index recouped early losses to settle near Thursday's six-month closing high as index heavyweights trimmed declines.

The second-heaviest weighted stock on the bourse Hyundai Motor and its smaller affiliate Kia Motors closed down 1.6 and 0.7 percent each. Samsung Electronics shed 0.4 percent as profit-taking continued for the second session.

Brokerages were in focus after the country's chief financial regulator pledged Thursday to ease regulations on the KONEX so as to encourage startups to go public. Samsung Securities, the country's biggest brokerage by market value, and Hyundai Securities rose 0.3 and 1.6 percent, reversing earlier declines.