Nikkei gains, most Asia markets shut for holidays

A woman takes shelter from the rain by an electronic stock board of a securities firm in Tokyo Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014. Shares fell Thursday in Asia as weak economic data from China and Japan deepened concerns over ongoing reductions in U.S. monetary stimulus. Japan's Nikkei 225 index was down 2.6 percent at 14,887.96 after the government reported that retail sales fell 1.1 percent in December from the month before. It gained slightly and closed at 15,007.06 for the day. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)
A woman takes shelter from the rain by an electronic stock board of a securities firm in Tokyo Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014. Shares fell Thursday in Asia as weak economic data from China and Japan deepened concerns over ongoing reductions in U.S. monetary stimulus. Japan's Nikkei 225 index was down 2.6 percent at 14,887.96 after the government reported that retail sales fell 1.1 percent in December from the month before. It gained slightly and closed at 15,007.06 for the day. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

BANGKOK (AP) — Most Asian stock markets are closed Friday for Lunar New Year holidays. The few bourses open have posted modest gains as U.S. corporate earnings continue to exceed expectations.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 was up 0.2 percent at 15,041.21 after the government reported increases in inflation and factory output. Inflation is a possible sign of economic recovery in Japan, which has been plagued by falling prices during two decades of stagnation.

Stock markets were closed in China, Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines.

In the South Pacific, Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.1 percent to 5,192.30. New Zealand’s benchmark gained 0.8 percent.

Better-than-expected U.S. earnings encouraged investors to buy more stocks, IG strategist Stan Shamu said in a market commentary.

Facebook stock posted double digit gains because of its strong earnings report, which boosted other technology stocks.

Shamu said about half of the companies in the S&P 500 index have reported earnings so far with most beating expectations for revenue and earnings per share.

U.S. stocks rose sharply Thursday as investors cheered the strong earnings and data that showed the U.S. economy grew at a robust annual rate of 3.2 percent in the fourth quarter.

The S&P 500 rose 19.99 points, or 1.1 percent, to 1,794.19. The Nasdaq composite jumped 71.69 points, or 1.8 percent, to 4,123.13 and the Dow Jones industrial average rose 109.82 points, or 0.7 percent, to 15,848.61.

Benchmark U.S crude for March delivery was down 6 cents at $98.17 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract gained 87 cents to finish Thursday at $98.23, boosted by the GDP report.

In currencies, the euro slipped to $1.3554 from $1.3577 late Thursday. The dollar fell to 102.74 yen from 102.78 yen.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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