Chinese shares rally as G20 meeting gets under way

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Markets in China and Japan were higher on Friday, following a strong finish for shares on Wall Street.

After falling more than 6% on Thursday, the Shanghai Composite closed up 1% at 2,767.21. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index rose 2.5% to 19,364.15.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei index closed up 0.3% at 16,188.41.

Investors were monitoring the G20 meeting of finance ministers and central bankers in Shanghai.

Based on gross domestic product (GDP), the G20 covers 86% of the world's economy, two-thirds of the world's population and 75% of global trade.

At the opening of the G20 gathering, China's finance minister, Lou Jiwei, urged closer international co-operation on economic policy and reducing trade barriers.

Meanwhile, in a conference on the sidelines of the meeting, China's central bank said the economy was showing positive signs.

After some time away from the media spotlight, the head of the People's Bank of China (PBoC), Zhou Xiaochuan, made his second appearance in a week, which analysts said was unusual.

"He was keen to emphasise that while PBoC monetary policy will be 'prudent', there was 'a slight easing bias'," said market expert Evan Lucas.

"Taken alongside Ministry of Finance proposals that China can afford a fiscal deficit of 4% of GDP, further stimulatory support does look forthcoming in 2016," Mr Lucas added.

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In Japan, shares in struggling electronics giant Sharp lost more than 11% after a potential takeover by Taiwanese manufacturer Foxconn was thrown into question by a last minute delay on Thursday.

In Australia, the benchmark ASX 200 index closed little-changed at 4,879.96.

Australia's biggest supermarket chain Woolworths reported a 33.1% fall in profits for the six months to December.

The firm, which has interests spanning hotels, petrol and discount liquor, reported net profits of 925.8m Australian dollars ($670m; £479.7m) for the period. Its shares fell 5% on the news but regained territory later to close up 2%.

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