HONG KONG - Asian markets mostly rose Friday after a strong rally on Wall Street, but gains were limited as data showed China's economy grew at its slowest pace it almost three years in the first quarter.
The mood was lifted slightly by news that a North Korean rocket launch, which had raised regional security tensions, had failed.
Tokyo rose 1.25 per cent by the break, Hong Kong added 1.39 per cent, Sydney gained 0.74 per cent, Shanghai was up 0.10 per cent and Seoul climbed 0.87 per cent.
Investors took their cue from a Wall Street surge that was driven by hopes the Federal Reserve will introduce fresh stimulus measures after a second straight week of rising jobs claims.
Adding to the buying sentiment was data showing the country's trade deficit had narrowed in February.
The Dow closed up 1.41 per cent, the S&P 500 gained 1.38 per cent and the tech-heavy Nasdaq climbed 1.30 per cent.
However, China's keenly-awaited gross domestic product results showed the economy grew just 8.1 per cent in the first three months of the year, the weakest since the second quarter of 2009.
The export-driven economy as hurt by the ongoing troubles in its key European and US markets, while demand at home was also weak.
Friday's figures follow a string of bad results from Beijing that many analysts fear point to a sharp slowdown, which could have huge knock-on effects for other economies that rely on Chinese growth.
However, while markets eased on the news there are hopes it will lead to more monetary easing, which some market-watchers say has been too slow despite the recent gloomy data.
"We think the policy easing will continue, or in case it's necessary, could be beefed up," Shuang Ding, senior China economist at Citigroup, told Dow Jones Newswires.
There was also relief around the region after Pyongyang's attempt to fire a rocket into space ended in failure when it exploded over the sea after just two minutes in the air.
North Korea had said the rocket would place a satellite in orbit for peaceful research purposes, but Western critics saw the launch as a thinly veiled ballistic missile test, banned by United Nations resolutions.
The planned launch had investors jittery, with worries escalating over security on the Korean peninsula and beyond.
Kenichi Hirano, operating officer at Tachibana Securities in Tokyo, said traders were "somewhat relieved" by the news.
On currency markets, the euro bought US$1.3170 (S$1.65) and 106.80 yen, from US$1.3199 and 106.65 yen in New York late Thursday. The dollar was at 81.08 yen, from 80.74 yen.
New York's main oil contract, West Texas Intermediate crude for delivery in May was up 13 cents to US$103.77 per barrel while Brent North Sea crude for May gained four cents to US$121.75.
Gold was at US$1,674.30 an ounce at 0330 GMT, compared with US$1,654.45 late Thursday.