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Asia stocks mostly higher after strong earnings, Greece aid

This July 6, 2015 photo shows a Wall Street address on a building in New York's financial district. European stocks jumped, leading gains in global benchmarks Thursday, July 16, 2015, after Greek lawmakers approved an austerity bill needed for another bailout. The dollar rose after the Fed chief indicated that U.S. interest rates could start rising later this year. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

HONG KONG (AP) — Asian stocks mostly drifted higher Friday after a raft of strong U.S. earnings reports helped firm up investor sentiment strong while Chinese benchmarks showed further signs of revival.

KEEPING SCORE: Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index added 0.2 percent to 20,645.66 while South Korea’s Kospi lost 0.6 percent to 2,076.20. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 0.9 percent to 25,397.55 and the Shanghai Composite Index in mainland China jumped 1.5 percent to 3,878.57. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 was up less than 0.1 percent to 5,670.20.

GLOBAL OUTLOOK: U.S. and European markets rose sharply, helped by strong second quarter results from companies such as Netflix, eBay and Citigroup and news that European authorities would provide short term financial help to Greece after it passed an austerity bill needed for more bailout cash.

ANALYST INSIGHT: “Traders will be looking to assess fair value for stocks against a macro background of downside risks to China’s economy and commodity prices and the likelihood that the U.S. will soon begin to lift interest rates,” said Ric Spooner, chief analyst at CMC Markets in Sydney, Australia.

SAMSUNG VOTE: South Korean markets were awaiting the outcome of a vote by shareholders on combining two companies in the vast Samsung empire. The decision on whether to allow construction firm Samsung C&T’s takeover by Cheil Industries is a crucial part of a once-in-a-generation leadership shift at Samsung, a conglomerate with dozens of businesses but best known globally for its Samsung Electronics brand. The takeover has met unexpected strong opposition led by a U.S. hedge fund.

WALL STREET: Strong corporate earnings reports helped lift the major U.S. benchmarks. The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 0.4 percent to 18,120.25 and the S&P 500 gained 0.8 percent to 2,124.29. The Nasdaq composite climbed 1.3 percent to 5,163.18.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude was up 26 cents to $51.17 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract lost 50 cents to close at $50.91 a barrel in New York on Thursday. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils used by many U.S. refineries, rose 20 cents to close at $57.12 a barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar eased to 124.15 yen from 124.18 in late trading Thursday. The euro rose to $1.0892 from $1.0879.

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