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Asian stock markets gain on thin trade

Investors eyed Americans hitting the stores for the start of the biggest shopping season of the year.

Asian stock markets gain on thin trade

Asian shares gained on Friday in morning session, with quiet trading due to holidays in Japan and the U.S., although investors eyed Americans hitting the stores for the start of the biggest shopping season of the year.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Excluding Japan Index (MXAPJ) rose 0.4% to 442 as of 10:39 a.m. in Hong Kong. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index rose 0.3% to 21,816 and South Korea's Kospi added 0.3% to 1,905. In China, Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.65% to 2,029. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 was marginally down at 4,411.

The Taiex Index advanced after Taipei-based Central News Agency reported that Finance Minister Chang Sheng-ford suggested government-controlled funds and banks that are partially owned by the government should buy local stocks.

The day after Thanksgiving, dubbed "Black Friday", is when millions of Americans rush out to stores in search of gifts for Christmas and other celebrations generating massive profits for U.S. retailers.

Shares gained after data on China manufacturing, U.S. jobs and housing added to signs the world’s two largest economies are on the mend.

Rare-earth companies led the gains in Asia, with Lynas Corp., builder of the largest rare-earth refinery in Malaysia, climbing 5.2% in Sydney as it prepares to start production in the Southeast Asian country.

China Rare Earth Holdings Ltd. added 4.1% in Hong Kong after a report the government plans to provide subsidies to the industry.

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