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Asian shares up on oil and ECB moves

Asian shares rallied on Friday, following a rise in US and European markets after the European Central Bank announced a huge stimulus programme, according to BBC.  In Japan, the Nikkei 225 closed up 1.05% to 17,511.75, while the Shanghai Composite rose 0.25% to 3,351.76.  In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index rose 1.3% to close at 24,850.45.  Markets were also bolstered by a rise in the price of oil, with US crude up nearly 2% to $47.21 a barrel, while Brent crude rose 2% to $49.55.

The European Central Bank is injecting more than 1.1tn euros ($1.15tn; £834bn) into the stagnant eurozone economy. The announcement of 60bn euros per month in quantitative easing until September 2016 exceeded market expectations. The dollar was at 118.58 yen compared with 118.52 yen in New York trade.

China manufacturing stalls

Chinese shares traded higher despite preliminary data showing the country’s manufacturing growth stalled for the second consecutive month in January. The HSBC/Markit Flash manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) was at 49.8, up from December’s 49.6. But, the reading is still below the 50-point mark that separates growth from contraction.

Shares in Australia hit a 10-week high, with the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 closing up 1.5% to 5501.8.  That marked its highest finish since 11 November, bringing its gains for the week to 4%.  In South Korea, shares hit a one month high despite data showing the economy slowed sharply in the fourth quarter to a near six year low.

The economy grew a seasonally adjusted 0.4% in the October-December period from the previous quarter, less than half the 0.9% gain in the third quarter. The benchmark Kospi index closed up 0.8% to 1,936.09 points.

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