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Asian stocks mostly higher after Putin seems to tone down Ukraine rhetoric, Wall Street rises

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TOKYO - Asian stock markets were mostly higher Friday, cheered by a rise on Wall Street and a sense that Ukraine tensions are easing, but trading was muted by holidays.

KEEPING SCORE: Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 0.7 per cent to 24,974.03 and China's Shanghai Composite rose 0.8 per cent to 2,224.31. Japan's Nikkei 225 was off 0.1 per cent at 15,293.91 while Australia's S&P/ASX 200 added 0.4 per cent to 5,569.70. South Korean markets were closed for a holiday and trading was subdued in Japan because of the Obon holidays, during which major companies slumber.

EASING TENSIONS: Sentiment was helped by Russia's President Vladimir Putin appearing to tone down his rhetoric on situation in Ukraine, where pro-Russian rebels are waging an insurgency in Ukraine's east. In addressing hundreds of lawmakers Thursday in the Black Sea resort of Yalta in Crimea, which was annexed by Russia from Ukraine in March, he said Russia's goal was "to stop bloodshed in Ukraine as soon as possible."

ANALYST TAKE: Desmond Chua, market analyst at CMC Markets in Singapore, said that investors were shrugging off a weaker-than-expected U.S. jobs report but were encouraged by what was being seen as Russia's "more conciliatory tone" over Ukraine/ The U.S. Labor Department said more people applied for U.S. unemployment benefits last week, with applications climbing 21,000 to 311,000.

WALL STREET: The Dow Jones industrial average rose 61.78 points, or 0.4 per cent, to 16,713.58, in quiet summer trading Thursday. The Standard & Poor's 500 rose 8.46 points, or 0.4 per cent, to close at 1,955.18. The Nasdaq composite rose 18.88 points, or 0.4 per cent, to 4,453.00.

ENERGY: The benchmark U.S. crude futures contract was up 12 cents to $95.70 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude was up 65 cents at $102.72 on the ICE exchange in London.

CURRENCIES: The euro was unchanged at $1.3363. The dollar rose to 102.51 yen from 102.48 yen late Thursday.

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