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Asian shares posted moderate gains Thursday after a lackluster day on Wall Street, as an industry report showing rising demand for chips buoyed technology companies.
Uncertainty over prospects for economic growth in coming months kept benchmarks within a narrow range. But upbeat earnings results from U.S. retailers shored up U.S. shares, providing some relief from the bad news that has recently battered global markets.
"The markets are in a consolidation mood in the absence of fresh incentives," said Ben Kwong Man Bun, chief operating officer at KGI Securities in Hong Kong.
Japan's Nikkei 225 stock average added 1.1 percent to 9,341.81, though gains were capped as investors continued to monitor foreign exchange levels while awaiting a possible meeting next week about the strong yen between Prime Minister Naoto Kan and Bank of Japan Gov. Masaaki Shirakawa.
Chinese shares were higher after a slow start on expectations the government will keep its economic policies stable, said Peng Yunliang, an analyst at Shanghai Securities, in Shanghai.
"It looks like worries over inflation have been eased by recent economic data, and investors believe the government has firm control over the situation," Peng said.
The Shanghai Composite Index added 0.4 percent to 2,677.41.
Chinese property developers lost further ground following news that the southwestern city of Chongqing was approved to start a trial tax on property transactions, with Poly Real Estate dropping 2.2 percent.
South Korea's Kospi rose 0.9 percent to 1,778.20 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng index climbed 0.7 percent to 21,158.55.
Australia's S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.3 percent. Dragging sentiment were uncertainties over miner BHP Billiton Ltd.'s hostile $38.5 billion takeover bid for one of the world's biggest fertilizer producers.
BHP on Wednesday reacted to Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan's dismissal of its bid as "grossly inadequate" by going directly to shareholders with the $130 a share offer. The issue fell 1.1 percent.
Elsewhere, tech shares helped fuel upward momentum in Japan and South Korea. Tokyo Electron Ltd., which makes chip-related equipment, jumped 4.6 percent after an industry report showed rising demand. South Korea's Hynix Semiconductor Inc. added 2.8 percent.
In New York on Wednesday, the Dow Jones industrials inched up 0.1 percent to 10,415.54 after investors found some consolation in retail earnings reports. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 0.2 percent to 1,094.16, and the Nasdaq composite index added 0.3 percent to 2,215.70.
In currencies, the dollar rose to 85.72 yen from 85.47 yen late Wednesday. The euro fell to $1.2791 from $1.2841.
Benchmark crude for September delivery was up 3 cents at $75.45 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract lost 35 cents to settle at $75.42 on Wednesday after dropping as low as $73.83.