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Asian stock markets rally on report showing strong increase in hiring in US

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TOKYO - Asian stock markets were mostly higher Friday after the U.S. reported strong hiring for June. European markets faded after being boosted by the jobs data the day before.

U.S. markets are closed for the Fourth of July holiday, leading to relatively muted trading elsewhere.

Early in Europe, Britain's FTSE 100 inched down 0.1 per cent to 6,860.96 and France's CAC-40 dropped 0.1 per cent to 4,486.24. Germany's DAX was down less than 0.1 per cent at 10,025.14.

Asian stock markets mostly rose after the strong U.S. jobs report for June boosted a major Wall Street index to a record high.

The Nikkei 225 average, the benchmark for the Tokyo Stock Exchange, gained 0.6 per cent to finish at 15,437.13 while Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 0.1 per cent to 23,546.36.

"The big factor was the rise in the U.S. market," said Yutaka Miura, senior technical analyst at Mizuho Securities Co. in Tokyo.

On Thursday, the Dow Jones industrial average was buoyed by the jobs figures and topped 17,000 for the first time, another in a string of records for the index that has lifted portfolios in a five-year bull market for stocks.

The government reported that U.S. employers added 288,000 workers to their payrolls in June and the unemployment rate fell to 6.1 per cent. The U.S. economy is now creating about 231,000 jobs each month in 2014, compared to roughly 194,000 a month last year.

The jobs report is the latest piece of data to show the world's biggest economy continues to improve steadily. Also helping stocks are solid corporate earnings and continued support from central banks.

The Kospi in South Korea was little changed at 2,009.66. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 added 0.6 per cent to 5,525.Markets in Southeast Asia were also higher.

The long weekend appeared to have kept overseas players away, and trading volume was low, said Miura.

"There was buying at first but then the momentum didn't keep up," he said of Friday's trading.

In energy trading, benchmark U.S. crude for August delivery was up 1 cent to $104.07 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 42 cents to $104.06 on Thursday, its sixth day of declines.

In currencies, the euro slipped to $1.3604 from $1.3609 late Thursday. The dollar fell to 102.09 yen from 102.21 yen.

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Follow Yuri Kageyama on Twitter at https://twitter.com/yurikageyama

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