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Korean Stocks Advance on Credit Rating Boost

Korean stocks made a bold advance Friday on news of a vote of confidence from a U.S. based credit ratings agency.

Moody's Investors Service boosted South Korea's credit rating outlook Friday. Moody's upgraded its outlook on the country's foreign currency-denominated bonds to positive, crediting South Korea's ability to attract investment funds and to guard against a currency crisis.

Stocks rose nearly 2.5 percent to close at 643. Many large companies gained ground, because the improved credit rating will reduce borrowing costs. Samsung Electronics climbed nearly four percent while Korea Tobacco and Ginseng soared 4.3 percent.

In Japan, key indexes ended flat after the government said the unemployment rate rose to 5.4 percent, its highest level in nearly 50 years.

Economy Minister Takeo Hiranuma said the government is trying to assist the small business sector, which has been especially hard hit. He adds that the government will try to revitalize many industries to boost the job market.

The Nikkei Average closed at 10,697. It has lost more than 28 percent of its value this year.

In Hong Kong, property and telecom stocks lifted the overall market on hopes for a recovery in the U.S. economy. The Hang Seng Index closed 1.7 percent higher.

However, after the market closed, the government announced that Hong Kong's economy contracted by 0.3 percent in the third quarter, compared with the same period last year.

In Taiwan, stocks closed slightly lower with many investors sticking to the sidelines before Saturday's legislative elections. Singapore shares rose about 1.5 percent with banks among the top performers.