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Upbeat US figures boost Asian markets

Strong US manufacturing figures boosted Asian stock markets Tuesday while Tokyo was pushed higher following an announcement from Toyota that the auto giant would start fixing recalled cars.

Cheaper shares in China following a tumble also brought bargain hunters into the mix, while rising commodity prices benefited resource companies in Australia.

Tokyo’s Nikkei rose 1.88 percent to 10,396.48 by lunch, lifted by a surge in Toyota shares after the company said it would start its programme of repairing vehicles this week.

Toyota jumped 5.5 percent to 3,640 yen, recovering some of its recent heavy losses, after the company said it had started shipping parts to US dealers to fix the millions of vehicles recalled due to sticking accelerator pedals.

The Japanese firm said it would resume production of the eight affected models on February 8 at factories in North America and resume sales after dealers have fixed the vehicles on their lots.

Hong Kong rose 1.18 percent in the first few minutes of trade and Shanghai was 1.35 percent up after a correction that had been caused by fears Beijing may restrict credit.

Wall Street was pushed 1.17 percent higher on Monday after the US Institute of Supply Management said its manufacturing index, also known as the purchasing managers index, climbed to 58.4 percent in January, the best number since 2004 and well ahead of the 50 percent that indicates growth.

A separate report showed consumer spending rose 0.2 percent in December, and personal incomes increased 0.4 percent.

Hopes for a strong recovery in the United States had been boosted Friday by data showing the world’s biggest economy grew 5.7 percent in the fourth quarter, the strongest in six years.

And dealers now have an eye on Washington for figures on unemployment and job creation for January, which will give more clues on the strength of the rebound.

Analysts expect the report to show a net gain of 50,000 jobs, following a loss of 85,000 in December. That would be a big positive, although not enough to bring down the US unemployment rate from its level of 10 percent.

Australian shares lifted in early trade Tuesday, as resources stocks got a fillip from higher oil and gold prices.

By noon (0100 GMT) the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 68.7 points, or 1.57 percent, at 4,592.8 points and the broader All Ordinaries index had gained 71.5 points, or 1.52 percent, to 4,618.5 points. “The global manufacturing data we got from pretty much all around the world was very, very strong last night,” IG Markets institutional dealer Chris Weston said.

“We do still have quite a few downside risks in the market, you can’t rule that out, but at least in the short term it’s been good to get some positive news from all around the world.” Shortly after noon, mining giant BHP Billiton was up 3.24 percent at 40.47 Australian dollars (36.06 US) and Rio Tinto had gained 4.64 percent to 70.54 dollars. Meanwhile investors were anticipating an interest rate decision by the Australian central bank later in the day.

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