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Asia shares, except China, piggyback on US rally, Fed relief

TOKYO (AP) — Asian shares pushed higher Friday following a rally in U.S. markets, but China’s benchmark sank again on worries over the potential impact of a flurry of initial public offerings and moves by regulators to curb margin trading.

KEEPING SCORE: Japan’s Nikkei 225 rose 0.8 percent to 20,149.95 and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong added 0.9 percent to 26,930.01. South Korea’s Kospi gained 0.4 percent to 2,049.91 and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 jumped 1.3 percent to 5,595.80. The Shanghai Composite Index dropped 1.8 percent to 4,698.41 and the smaller Shenzhen Composite Index lost 2.4 percent to 2,843.23.

CHINA JITTERS: Chinese shares have backed away from recent peaks on worries that a bubble may be building in equity markets. A flurry of IPOs is accentuating concerns over liquidity. Meanwhile, the government’s moves to curb risks from margin trading are also weighing on sentiment.

GREEK DRAMA: Investors were monitoring events in Europe, where Greece and its international lenders are deadlocked in bailout talks. Greece needs more loans from its creditors before June 30, when its current bailout program expires and a 1.6 billion euro ($1.8 billion) debt repayment is due. Greece and its creditors blame one another for an impasse in the talks. A default could result in Greece leaving the euro currency bloc, dealing a blow to the project.

THE QUOTE: “Despite the positive overnight leads, it is difficult to say how Asian markets will perform today. Ongoing Greece drama may continue to weigh on sentiments. Eyes will be on Chinese equities as they may head for their worst weekly decline since early 2009,” said Bernard Aw, a market strategist at IG in Singapore.

WALL STREET: U.S. stocks netted their biggest gains in a week Thursday after the Federal Reserve hinted it needs to see a stronger economy before raising interest rates. Ultra-low rates over the past six years have helped drive a bull market in stocks that has pushed the market to record levels. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 180.10 points, or 1 percent, to 18,115.84. The Standard & Poor’s 500 climbed 20.80 points, or 1 percent, to 2,121.24. The Nasdaq set a new record high, adding 68.07 points, or 1.3 percent, to close at 5,132.95.

CURRENCIES: The dollar weakened as traders priced in a lower trajectory for Fed rate increases. The U.S. currency was wavering near 123.00 yen from 123.04 yen on Wednesday. The euro was nearly flat at $1.1373 from $1.1371.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude lost 3 cents to $60.42 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It rose 53 cents to close at $60.45 a barrel in New York on Thursday. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oil used by many U.S. refineries, fell 7 cents to $64.19.

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