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Asian Markets Snap 4-Day Slide on US Data

Asian markets snapped a four-day slide Friday and government bond yields climbed after upbeat U.S. factory and jobs data provided more evidence that the global economy is recovering from its deep recession.

A slowing pace of contraction in the Philadelphia Federal Reserve's regional gauge of manufacturing and a rise in the expectations index to its highest since September 2003 -- when the U.S. economy was healing from its last recession -- comforted investors.

But the rise in Asian equity markets was slight compared with the gains on Wall Street, and higher-yielding ones lost some ground after the previous day's jump as market players turned cautious towards the end of the second quarter.

Currencies were little changed in choppy trade, with some market players covering short positions in the dollar and giving the greenback a slight boost. The dollar index, a gauge of its performance against six major currencies, was little changed at 80.542 and holding small gains on the week after recovering from a seven-month low struck earlier in the month. Against the yen , the dollar was flat. Crude oil prices barely budged, holding above $71 a barrel, just below a seven-month high on the U.S. data and on worries about supply from OPEC member Nigeria.

Japan's Nikkei 225 Average clung to gains of 0.9 percent on Friday but posted its biggest weekly fall in three months, with jittery investors needing more proof the economic recession is easing in order to push shares higher. Banks rose on brokerage upgrades and target price hikes, but battery maker GS Yuasa and shares in other companies seen as eco-friendly tumbled on profit-taking.

Seoul shares closed half a percent higher after volatile trade, with Samsung SDI rallying on auto battery business hopes and Hite Holdings gaining on news it would sell a stake in Jinro.

Australian shares edged up 0.2 percent, breaking a four-day losing streak, as financial stocks rose on the back of a rally in their Wall Street peers.

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Hong Kong shares rebounded from a four-day fall after new U.S. data gave reason for some optimism on the economy, the Hang Seng index closed 0.8 percent higher. PetroChina gained 0.4 percent after the company, Asia's largest oil and gas producer, said it would buy two pipelines in western China from its state-owned parent for about HK$11 billion (US$1.4 billion).

Singapore's Straits Times Index was up 1.6 percent. Keppel Land, Singapore's third-largest developer, advanced despite a downgrade from BNP Paribas to "reduce" from "buy", after the shares have gained strongly since March.

China's Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.9 percent, shrugging off supply pressure from IPO resumption after Guilin Sanjin Pharmaceutical announced it would sell 46 million shares in Shenzhen. Pharmaceuticals and financial companies were leading the gains.