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Asia stocks jump on strong Spain debt auction

Pamela Sampson, AP Business Writer

BANGKOK (AP) -- Asian stock markets rebounded Wednesday after a slew of solid earnings boosted the outlook for U.S. companies and a successful Spanish bond auction eased worries over Europe's debt crisis.

Japan's Nikkei 225 index jumped 1.7 percent to 9,622.39. South Korea's Kospi added 0.9 percent to 2,003.03 and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 rose 1.2 percent to 4,339.40.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 0.9 percent to 20,750.55. Benchmarks in Singapore, Taiwan and Indonesia also rose.

On Tuesday, European stocks had their best day in four months after Spain attracted strong investor interest at an auction of two-year debt.

The government sold more than €3.2 billion ($4.2 billion) in short-term debt, more than had been expected, and the yield on Spain's 10-year government bond fell, a sign of improving confidence in the country's finances.

"This saw investors less pessimistic about Europe and lifted risk assets all round," said Stan Shamu, analyst with IG Markets in Melbourne.

In the U.S., first-quarter results gave markets a lift. Coca-Cola's profit was better than Wall Street analysts had forecast. Goldman Sachs and Johnson & Johnson also posted strong results.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 1.5 percent to 13,115.54, its best day in a month. The S&P 500 closed up 1.6 percent to 1,390.78. The Nasdaq composite index soared 1.8 percent to 3,042.82, its biggest point rise in three weeks.

Positive news also came from the International Monetary Fund, which raised its outlook for the global economy because of faster U.S. growth and a coordinated effort in Europe to address its debt crisis.

The global lending organization said Tuesday the U.S. economy should expand 2.1 percent this year. Europe will likely shrink 0.3 percent and the world economy should grow 3.5 percent. All three estimates are slightly better than the IMF's January forecasts.

Benchmark oil for May delivery was up 3 cents to $104.23 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose $1.27 to settle at $104.20 in New York on Tuesday.

In currency trading, the euro fell to $1.3111 from $1.3139 late Tuesday in New York. The dollar rose to 81.37 yen from 80.80 yen.