BANGKOK: Asian stock markets rose Friday, as strong earnings and positive jobs data out of the U.S. added to hopes that the economic recovery in the world's largest economy is for real.
Japan's Nikkei 225 index rose 1.2 percent to 8,744.15. South Korea's Kospi rose 0.9 percent to 1,932.71. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index added 0.2 percent to 19,989.15 and Australia's S&P ASX 200 was 0.5 percent higher at 4,234.70.
Benchmarks in Singapore, New Zealand and mainland China were also higher. Taiwan markets were closed ahead of Chinese New Year, which starts Monday.
Strong corporate earnings reports in the U.S. boosted investor tolerance for risk assets like stocks. Bank of America and Morgan Stanley both reported results that were better than analysts were expecting. IBM Corp.'s fourth-quarter earnings also beat Wall Street expectations.
On top of earnings came data that showed the U.S. job market is strengthening. The number of people seeking unemployment benefits plummeted last week to 352,000, the fewest since April 2008.
France and Spain also held successful bond auctions, easing concerns about the debt crisis in Europe.
The Dow Jones industrial average gained 0.4 percent to close at 12,623.98. The Standard & Poor's 500 index added 0.5 percent to close at 1,314.50. Both averages are at their highest since July. The Nasdaq added 0.7 percent to close at 2,788.33.