HONG KONG - Asian markets mostly rose Friday after a strong rally on Wall Street while dealers absorbed data showing China's economy grew at its slowest pace in almost three years in the first quarter.
The mood was also lifted by news that a North Korean rocket launch, which had raised regional security tensions, had failed.
Tokyo rose 1.19 per cent, or 113.20 points, to 9,637.99 and Seoul climbed 1.12 per cent, or 22.28 points, to 2,008.91 while Sydney gained 0.99 per cent, or 42.3 points, to 4,322.9.
Hong Kong added 1.84 per cent, or 373.72 points, to 20,701.04 and Shanghai was up 0.35 per cent, or 8.30 points, to 2,359.16.
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.
Shuang Ding, senior China economist at Citigroup, told Dow Jones Newswires: "We think the policy easing will continue, or in case it's necessary, could be beefed up."
However, the 8.1 per cent growth was above Beijing's target 7.5 per cent for the year and in line with World Bank's forecast of 8.2 per cent.
Dealers were cheered by official data showing Chinese banks ramped up lending in March by issuing 1.01 trillion yuan (S$199.9 billion) in new loans, much higher than February's 710.7 billion yuan and the expected 800 billion yuan.
Analysts said the surge indicated the government was carrying out its aims to "fine-tune" monetary policy to keep the economy moving, which also include cutting the amount of cash banks must keep in reserve.
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$1.3145 (S$1.6397) and 106.35 yen (S$1.6374) in early Europe trade, from US$1.3199 and 106.65 yen in New York late Thursday. The dollar was at 80.89 yen, from 80.74 yen.
New York's main oil contract, West Texas Intermediate crude for delivery in May was down 47 US cents to US$103.17 per barrel while Brent North Sea crude for May fell 46 cents to US$121.25.
Gold was at US$1,674.15 an ounce at 1100 GMT (7pm, Singapore time), compared with US$1,672.90 earlier Friday.
In other markets:
- Singapore closed up 0.33 per cent, or 9.68 points, at 2,987.82.
DBS Bank gained 0.45 per cent to $13.48 while beverage distributor Fraser and Neave was up 0.75 per cent at $6.74.
- Taipei climbed 1.64 per cent, or 125.35 points, to 7,788.27.
TSMC added 2.78 per cent to Tw$84.9 while China Airlines was 1.74 per cent higher at Tw$11.7.
- Manila closed 1.00 per cent higher, adding 50.52 points to 5,097.30.
Alliance Global Group gained 0.66 per cent to 12.12 pesos while JG Summit Holdings rose 7.20 per cent to 33.50 pesos.
Metropolitan Bank and Trust Co. rose 1.85 per cent to 88 pesos.
- Wellington closed flat, adding 0.10 points to 3,487.17.
Contact Energy slipped 0.62 per cent to NZ$4.80 (S$4.93), Fletcher Building added 0.81 per cent to NZ$6.20 and Telecom was down 1.00 per cent at NZ$2.49.
- Kuala Lumpur added 0.12 per cent, or 1.85 points, to end at 1,603.12.
Plantation firm Sime Darby inched up 0.10 per cent to 9.89 ringgit (S$4.03), while telecoms provider DiGi.com added 0.26 per cent to 3.92 ringgit. Financial firm CIMB Group Holdings lost 0.26 per cent to 7.69.
- Jakarta rose 0.48 per cent, or 19.74 points, to 4,159.28.
Car maker Astra International rose 0.7 per cent to 74,300 rupiah ($10.14), while Bank Mandiri rose 0.8 per cent to 7,000 rupiah, and cigarette maker Gudang Garam jumped 0.7 per cent to 59,400 rupiah.
- Mumbai fell 1.37 per cent or 238.11 points to 17,094.51 as investors sold software stocks after Infosys gave a lower-than-expected growth forecast.
Infosys said its quarterly consolidated profit rose 27 per cent to 23.16 billion rupees (S$566 million) in the three months to March.
The company forecast its full-year dollar-based revenue for the new fiscal year which started April 1, at US$7.55 billion to US$7.69 billion, a lower-than-expected 8 to 10 per cent rise.
Investors will eye the country's central bank moves next Tuesday, where it is widely expected to cut interest rates.
Infosys ended down 12.61 per cent at 2,403.3 rupees while rival TCS slid 5.47 per cent to 1,069.55.
- Bangkok was closed for a public holiday.