Stocks in Asia rise following positive data from the US

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Stocks in Asia were mostly up on Thursday, following Wall Street's lead and buoyed by a positive jobs survey in the US, together with hopes of further stimulus measures in the eurozone.

Japan's Nikkei 225 closed up 1.67% in one of its best days in three weeks.

Oil prices rebounded slightly, too, from fresh lows seen earlier this week, giving a boost to investor confidence.

The latest US jobs report found that private payrolls rose by 241,000 in December, up from 227,000 in November.

Further fresh figures from the US showed the country's trade deficit narrowed to an 11-month low in November, with the drop in oil prices cutting the cost of imports.

The price of oil traded in the US, known as West Texas Intermediate crude, has fallen below $50.

While the price of Brent crude had dipped below $50 a barrel for the first time since May 2009, hitting $49.66 a barrel, it later recovered to $51.20.

More good news

Other good news for investors in Asia came from Europe.

The latest eurozone inflation figures showed inflation turned negative in December, with prices down 0.2% from a year earlier, but the data means the European Central Bank may be forced to try fresh stimulus measures to kick-start the economy.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index finished up 0.7%, while Shanghai Composite bucked the regional trend to close down 2.4%.

Du Changchun, analyst at Northeast Securities in Shanghai, said profit-taking was one factor behind the Shanghai market fall on Thursday.

"Furthermore, the momentum for blue-chips seems to have weakened because of shrinking turnovers," he said.

Investors welcomed news from Hong Kong listed bank Standard Chartered after the British lender said it would shut its equities business and cut jobs in an ongoing effort to cut costs and boost profits. Its shares were up 2.8%.

Australia's share market, the S&P/ASX 200, finished the day up 0.52%.

In South Korea, the benchmark Kospi was up 1.11% in line with the majority of regional indexes.

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