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Tech stocks lead markets higher

Written by: Staff

HONG KONG, Mar 2 (Reuters) Asian stocks rose on Thursday led by tech shares such as Samsung Electronics <005930.KS> following a rally in their U.S. peers, while higher oil prices helped lift energy issues such as Woodside Petroleum.

At 0020 GMT, Tokyo stocks <.N225> had gained 0.66 percent, resuming their climb following a 1.49 percent drop on Wednesday, as tech stocks such as chip equipment maker Advantest Corp. <6857.T> and Internet communications conglomerate Softbank Corp. <9984.T> rebounded.

''With U.S. techs rebounding and the yen back to the 116 level (against the dollar) ... I think we can expect (Tokyo) stocks to move higher,'' said Hiroyuki Nakai, chief strategist at Tokai Tokyo Securities.

Japan's top oil developer INPEX Corp. <1604.T> put on 1.8 percent after U.S. crude rose above a barrel amid worries of more attacks on energy installations in Nigeria.

In South Korea, Samsung Electronics, top lender Kookmin Bank <060000.KS> and flat screen maker LG.Philips LCD <034220.KS> helped drive the KOSPI <.KS11> up 0.30 percent. The market was shut for a public holiday on Wednesday.

But Korea Exchange Bank <004940.KS> fell 3.6 percent after a source told Reuters that Commerzbank was selling an 8.1 percent stake in the South Korean lender for 703.5 billion won (5 million). ([ID:nSEO222650]) Australian stocks <.AXJO> put on 0.65 percent, recovering from a 1.44 percent slide in the previous session, thanks togains of over 1 percent for miners BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto . Oil producer Woodside Petroleum climbed 1.4 percent.

''U.S. markets were firmer, gold was a bit better, commodities are OK, so all is forgiven,'' said Leigh Gardner, ABN AMRO's head of sales trading.

On Wall Street, U.S. blue chips <.DJI> climbed 0.55 percent while the tech-laced Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> jumped 1.46 percent, boosted by solid gains in network equipment maker Cisco Systems Inc. and other tech issues.

The U.S. market was also buoyed by upbeat data showing a stronger-than-expected rise in Feburary factory output and a surge in consumer spending in January -- figures that pointed to renewed economic momentum so far this year.


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