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Asian shares climb on back of Wall Street highs

Elaine Kurtenbach, AP Business Writer

A board above the trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange shows the Dow Jones industrial average closing number above 21,000, Wednesday, March 1, 2017. Banks and other financial companies led U.S. stocks sharply higher, pushing the Dow Jones industrial average to close above 21,000 points for the first time. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

TOKYO (AP) -- Shares rose in Asia on Thursday after investors bet big on U.S. stocks Wednesday, pushing the major indexes to record highs. Tokyo shares were buoyed by the dollar's gain against the Japanese yen.

KEEPING SCORE: Tokyo's Nikkei 225 stock index advanced 1.3 percent to 19,643.62 and the Hang Seng index in Hong Kong added 0.4 percent to 23,873.53. The Kospi in South Korea climbed 0.4 percent to 2,100.01 and Australia's S&P ASX/200 jumped 1.2 percent to 5,770.60. The Shanghai Composite Index edged 0.1 percent lower to 3,242.77 and markets in Southeast Asia were mixed.

WALL STREET HIGHS: The Dow Jones industrial average surpassed 21,000 points for the first time in what was the biggest gain for the blue-chip index so far this year. Optimism over corporate tax cuts, deregulation and other business-friendly policy proposals reiterated by President Donald Trump during a speech before Congress helped fuel the rally. Banks were the biggest gainers amid heightened expectations that an improving economy will lead to higher interest rates. The Dow jumped 1.5 percent to 21,115.55. The Standard & Poor's 500 index gained 1.4 percent, to 2,395.96 in its biggest single-day gain. The Nasdaq composite index also added 1.4 percent, to 5,904.03.

QUOTABLE: "A sweep of the markets and you will find that Asia has a lot of catching up to do after the strong gains across the globe overnight," IG market strategist Jingyi Pan said in a commentary. "Asian markets are in for a strong boost in the day with early movers delivering strong gains this morning."

CURRENCIES: The speculation the Federal Reserve may soon raise interest rates again helped push the dollar higher. The dollar rose to 113.97 yen from 113.74 yen. The euro slipped to $1.0531 from $1.0597.

ENERGY: U.S. crude fell 11 cents to $53.72 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It shed 18 cents to $53.83 a barrel on Wednesday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, lost 3 cents to $56.33 a barrel.

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AP Business Writer Alex Veiga in New York contributed to this report.