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Market Update

Asian Stocks Extend Gains; Nikkei Leads

Asian markets were all in the green Friday, taking cues from Wall Street, where stocks hit fresh record highs overnight on heels of upbeat economic data.

Japan's Nikkei rallied 1.8%, leading the gains, as stocks got a further lift from a softer yen.

Mainland China's Shanghai Composite gained 0.5% while Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.6%. Australia's S&P/ASX All Ordinaries climbed 1% while Mumbai's Sensex was up 0.2% in choppy trades at 10:05 a.m. local time.

U.S. stocks ended higher overnight with both the Dow Jones and the S&P 500 logging record highs during the session after manufacturing activity data and initial jobless claims came well above expectations.

The gains came a day after the Federal Reserve reiterated its accomodative monetary stance, saying the bank would maintain its monthly bond-purchase program over the short-run. Following in the Fed's footsteps, officials at the European Central Bank as well as the Bank of England said they will maintain easy monetary policies to bolster growth.

Stocks on the Move

Tokyo-listed stocks extended their rally on the back of a weaker yen and some upbeat corporate results. The yen hovered around 99.50 per dollar mark as traders awaited a closely-watched U.S. jobs data report later in the day.

On the earnings front, Sharp Corp. gained 2.4% after the company posted narrower first-quarter loss whle Sony Corp. added 0.8% after posting a net profit for the latest quarter.

Suzuki Motor Corp. advanced 4.7% after its first-quarter profit accelerated 10.5%.

Among financials, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group rose 2.4% after it announced plans to revise ATM fees.

Resources stocks and realty players added to the gains. Kobe Steel vaulted 3.9% while JFE Holdings bounced 4.4%. Mitsubishi Fudosan Co and Sumitomo Realty & Development Co. added around 2.5% each.

Property developers were in focus in Hong Kong as well after upbeat earnings from Cheung Kong (Holdings) Ltd. spurred confidence.

Poly Property Group surged 6%, China Resources Land rallied 4.4% and Sino Land Company added 2.2%.

Investment holding company Hutchison Whampoa jumped 4.4% after posting better-than-expected quarterly results.

Among other gainers, metal players, banks and some exporters were trading modestly higher.

Sydney-listed banks erased yesterday's losses after a report on possible new bank taxes was revised. Westpac Banking rose 1.4%, NAB added 1.1% while Commonwealth Bank tacked on a percent.

In Mumbai, gainers included IT services firm -- Wipro (+3.1%), TCS (+1.5%) and Infosys (+1.3%).

Retailers were also in focus after proposals to further relax FDI norms in mult-brand retail segment were given a green signal.

Future Retail Ltd. bounced 7%, Shoppers Stop Ltd. added 0.6% but Trent Ltd. slipped 0.4%.