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Private survey showing an improvement in China's manufacturing lifts Asian stock markets

From left, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi, European Commissioner for Economic Affairs Olli Rehn, Greek Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras and Finland's Finance Minister Jutta Urpilainen share a word during a meeting of eurogroup finance ministers in Brussels on Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2012. European Union officials will make a fresh try Tuesday to reaching a political accord on desperately needed bailout loans to Greece, an agreement that eluded them last week. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

BANGKOK - Asian stock markets rose after a private survey released Thursday showed manufacturing in China at a 13-month high, rare good news for the global economy. Sentiment also benefited from a cease-fire agreement between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

HSBC's Purchasing Managers' Index, which combines various measures of manufacturing activity in China, rose to 50.4 for November. That was up from October's PMI of 49.5 and September's PMI of 47.9. Readings above 50 denote growth.

The survey shows that the "economic recovery continues to gain momentum towards the year end," analysts at HSBC said. "However, it is still the early stage of recovery and global economic growth remains fragile."

Japan's Nikkei 225 index rose 1.1 per cent to 9,319.36 as a recently weakened yen provided a vital boost to the export-heavy index. Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 0.5 per cent to 21,622.82. South Korea's Kospi added 0.8 per cent to 1,898.25 and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 jumped 1.3 per cent to 4,424.20. Benchmarks in Singapore and Taiwan rose.

In Europe, meanwhile, finance ministers from the 17 countries that use the euro failed to reach an agreement Wednesday to release more money for debt-crippled Greece. Talks reconvene Monday, and expectations are that Athens will eventually get an overdue 31.5 billion ($40 billion) loan payment urgently needed to pay its bills.

Wall Street got a slight bounce Wednesday after news broke of a cease-fire agreement between Israel and the Hamas militant group to end eight days of fierce fighting in the Gaza Strip.

Investors are also expecting a resolution to the U.S. "fiscal cliff" of tax increases and government spending cuts that are set to take effect Jan. 1 unless Congress and the Obama administration reach a deal first.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 0.4 per cent to 12,836.89. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 0.2 per cent to 1,391.03. The Nasdaq composite index rose 0.3 per cent to 2,926.55.

The U.S. stock market will be closed Thursday for the Thanksgiving holiday and will close early Friday.

Benchmark crude for January delivery was up 22 cents to $87.60 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 63 cents to finish at $87.38 on the Nymex on Wednesday.

In currencies, the euro rose to $1.2850 from $1.2825 late Wednesday in New York. The dollar slipped to 82.46 yen from 82.49 yen.


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