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Written by: Staff

SINGAPORE, Apr 27 (Reuters) Strong earnings prospects boosted Asian stocks on Thursday, pushing some to new peaks after U.S.

blue chips hit a six-year high, but the dollar languished against the euro on worries over the U.S. current account deficit.

The Nikkei average rose as many of Japan's top companies began reporting favourable earnings, and shares of Honda Motor Co. Ltd. reached a lifetime high.

''The biggest (positive) surprise was Honda, which announced a share split plan in addition to favourable earnings,'' said Susumu Abe, manager at Mito Securities' information and investment department.

''Investors simply select good ones ... KDDI and Elpida are being picked up again as investors' appreciation of these stocks is not over yet,'' he said.

Chip maker Elpida Memory Inc. added to the previous day's gains on optimism it will swing back to profit, while KDDI Corp. , Japan's second-biggest telecoms firm, extended gains into a third session after a strong profit forecast.

The Nikkei index was up 0.55 percent ahead of full-year results by Sony Corp., Hitachi Ltd., Fujitsu Ltd. and JFE Holdings Inc., among others, after the market closes. Canon Inc.'s first-quarter earnings are also due.

South Korean shares rose to a record on earnings optimism but the index later erased its gains. Shares of Hyundai Motor fell as prosecutors sought an arrest warrant against the company's chairman on charges of embezzlement and breach of trust.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average ended up 0.63, and the Nasdaq Composite Index finished up 0.14 percent.

AUSTRALIA SHARES TOUCH PEAK Australian shares hit a new record after strong results from Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. but later eased on concerns of a possible interest rate hike.

Hong Kong's index added 0.7 percent, and Singapore's benchmark gained 0.5 percent.

Taiwan shares, meanwhile, rose to a fresh 5-1/2-year high.

A strong Taiwan dollar and a possible wider opening for Chinese tourists to the island sparked hopes of rising property values for asset-rich firms like Shin Kong Financial Holding In currency trading, the dollar dipped against the euro, matching a seven-month low hit the previous day as a renewed focus on the huge U.S. current account deficit diverted attention from otherwise solid U.S. economic data.

''Market players are sensing that the U.S. may be scaling back their commitment to a strong dollar. I think the dollar is basically falling in the near future,'' said Takehiko Jimbo, forex trading manager at Mitsubishi UFJ Trust Bank.

At 0309, the euro was at $1.2451 after earlier rising to $1.2471 to match a seven-month high hit the previous day. The dollar was little changed at 114.75 yen not far from a three-month low of 114.24 yen hit earlier in the week.

U.S. crude oil futures extended losses for a third day after U.S. data showed a smaller-than-expected drop in domestic gasoline stocks, easing supply worries ahead of the peak summer demand.

U.S. crude oil for June delivery was trading 4 cents lower at $71.89 a barrel in ACCESS electronic trading. On Wednesday it settled down 95 cents, bringing prices nearly 5 percent below a record $75.35 struck late last week.

Gold traded lower after having risen more than $9 in New York on renewed buying interest from funds. Spot gold was quoted at $637.10/638.10 an ounce, down from $640.10/641.10 late in New York on Wednesday and below a 25-year peak of $645.75 hit last week.


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