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Asia Stocks Extend Gains



Stocks in Asia extended their rally Friday, with investors encouraged by positive economic and company news. Some stock markets have risen more than 70 percent since the start of the year.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index Friday broke through the 20,000 level for the first time since September last year, when the collapse of U.S. investment bank Lehman Brothers sent investors retreating. The index has jumped about 75 percent since March.

Ben Kwong, chief operating officer of the financial group KGI, expects a continued rally in the short term. He says the weak dollar and lower interest rates make stock investments favorable.

"And we have also seen continuing inflow of funds," noted Kwong. "So on the back of strong liquidity, the market still has the upward momentum to surge even higher …. The point is, the market is still not been able to find a good excuse for a significant correction."

In Shanghai, shares of Chinese energy companies such as China Shenhua Energy and PetroChina were in high demand Friday, and the composite index reached a 13-month high. It has gained 85 percent this year.

The Nikkei 225 index in Japan soared for the eighth straight trading day to close at 9,944. An encouraging outlook for electronics maker Panasonic lifted market sentiment.

A slew of economic and company earnings news in South Korea boosted the KOSPI half a percent Friday. The economy grew in the second quarter at its fastest pace more than five years. And the country's biggest company, Samsung Electronics, reported better-than-expected earnings. The index closed at 1,502, up nine percent this week.

The regional MSCI Asia Pacific index that tracks large Asian companies outside Japan has soared 70 percent since March.

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