Asian stocks jump after encouraging signs from Wall Street

TOKYO - Asian stocks jumped Wednesday after encouraging signs of strength in the U.S. economy sent shares higher on Wall Street.

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KEEPING SCORE: A weak yen added to investor optimism, sending Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 up 4 per cent in morning trading to 16,734.81. South Korea's Kospi rose 1.4 per cent to 1,944.13. Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 2.7 per cent to 19,922.49, while the Shanghai Composite Index added 1.5 per cent to 2,773.78. Other regional markets were also higher, including Singapore, Taiwan and Indonesia.

UPBEAT U.S.: Stocks on Wall Street roared to their best day in more than a month on positive data, including construction spending reaching its highest level in eight years in January. Separately, a survey showed some signs of life in the beaten-down U.S. manufacturing sector.

WALL STREET: The Dow Jones industrial average jumped 348.58 points, or 2.1 per cent, to 16,865.08. The Standard & Poor's 500 index surged 46.12 points, or 2.4 per cent, to 1,978.35. That was the biggest gain for the S&P 500, a widely used benchmark, since late January. The Nasdaq composite index, which is heavily weighted with technology companies, made its biggest gain since August, adding 131.65 points, or 2.9 per cent, to 4,689.60.

ENERGY: U.S. crude fell 32 cents to $34.08 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the benchmark for international oils, slipped 9 cents to $36.72 a barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: The euro fell to $1.0862 from $1.0883 late Tuesday and the dollar rose to 113.99 yen from 112.38 yen.

AP Markets Writer Marley Jay contributed to his report



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