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Asia stocks rise after release of positive US data

Pamela Sampson, AP Business Writer

A man walks by an electronic stock board of a securities firm in Tokyo, Thursday, June 27, 2013. Stock markets from Sydney to Shanghai extended gains for a second day Thursday after the U.S. said quarterly growth may be weaker than expected, raising investors' hopes that the Federal Reserve would delay plans to wind down its stimulus program.(AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

BANGKOK (AP) -- Asian stock markets were boosted Friday by further proof that the U.S. economy is on the upswing.

Reports showing better-than-expected consumer spending, a jump in pending home sales and a drop in jobless claims emboldened investors to dive into riskier assets like stocks. Wall Street posted its third-straight gain of the week.

Japan's Nikkei 225 index surged 3.3 percent to 13,648.81. Hong Kong's Hang Seng advanced 1.3 percent to 20,708.18. South Korea's Kospi added 1.5 percent to 1,862.56. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.3 percent to 4,826.40.

Investors were also encouraged by comments from key U.S. Federal Reserve officials. The president of the New York branch of the Fed said the central bank would likely keep buying bonds if the economy failed to grow at the pace expected. Jerome Powell, a member of the Fed's board in Washington, said investors appear to have incorrectly concluded that the Fed will taper its purchases soon.

That brought a sign of relief to markets fearing that a pullback by the Fed would deflate stock and commodity markets, where investors have turned due to the low interest rates created by the bond buying program.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average rose 0.8 percent, to 15,204.49. The Standard & Poor's 500 rose 0.6 percent, to 1,613.20. The Nasdaq composite index rose 0.8 percent, to 3,401.86.

Benchmark oil for August delivery was up 12 cents to $97.17 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose $1.55 a barrel to close at $97.05 on the Nymex on Thursday.