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Asian Shares Advance After Biden's Stimulus Speech

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Asian shares advanced on Thursday after U.S. President Joe Biden announced a multi-trillion-dollar infrastructure investment plan to reshape the world's largest economy and counter the rise of China.

"It's a once-in-a-generation investment in America," Biden said in a speech in Pittsburgh about his "American Jobs Plan."

With much of the Asia Pacific on holiday on Friday, trading activity was somewhat muted.

China's Shanghai Composite Index rose 24.42 points, or 0.7 percent, to 3,466.33, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index surged up 560.39 points, or 2 percent, to 28,938.74.

The manufacturing sector in China continued to expand in March, albeit at a slightly slower pace, the latest survey from Caixin showed today, with a seasonally adjusted manufacturing PMI score of 50.6, down from 50.9 in February.

Japanese shares advanced on the back of upbeat economic data and hopes for corporate earnings. Economic optimism prevailed after a survey showed the manufacturing sector in Japan expanded at a faster pace in March.

Large manufacturing in Japan saw some improvement in the first quarter of 2021, the Bank of Japan's quarterly Tankan Survey of business sentiment showed, with a diffusion index score of +5, beating forecasts for a reading of 0.

The Nikkei 225 Index advanced 210.07 points, or 0.7 percent, to 29,388.87, while the broader Topix closed 0.2 percent higher at 1,957.64.

Semiconductor-related companies gained ground after U.S. chipmaker Micron Technology forecast third-quarter revenue above analysts' forecasts. Advantest jumped 4.1 percent, Tokyo Electron surged 4.7 percent and Screen Holdings added 6.1 percent.

Australian shares advanced after data showed home prices in the country rose at the fastest pace in three decades in March and February retail sales fell less than expected.

Adding to investor optimism over growth, the manufacturing sector in Australia expanded at a faster pace in March, the latest survey from the Australian Industry Group revealed.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index climbed 38 points, or 0.6 percent, to 6,828.70, while the broader All Ordinaries Index ended up 47.20 points, or 0.7 percent, at 7,064.20.

Tech stocks rallied, with Xero, WiseTech Global, Appen and Afterpay climbing 2-4 percent. An increase in Chinese iron ore futures helped lift miners, with BHP, Fortescue Metals Group and Rio Tinto rising between 0.8 percent and 1.3 percent.

Banks eked out modest gains despite regulatory concerns. Wealth manager AMP surged 4.7 percent after replacing its chief executive. Macquarie Group dropped half a percent after the prudential regulator ordered the company's banking unit to increase its cash reserves.

Travel booking group Webjet plunged 5.4 percent after it raised $250 million through a convertible note offering to fund acquisitions.

Seoul stocks rose notably after data showed exports expanded for a fifth straight month and the manufacturing sector in the country continued to expand at a steady pace in March.

The benchmark Kospi jumped 25.98 points, or 0.9 percent, to 3,087.40, driven by gains in chip heavyweights. Samsung Electronics gained 1.8 percent and SK Hynix soared 6 percent.

Meanwhile, New Zealand shares fell, with the benchmark NZX 50 Index ending down 72.39 points, or 0.6 percent, at 12,488.31 ahead of the Good Friday holiday.

U.S. stocks rose broadly overnight as a report from payroll processor ADP showed strong private sector job growth in March and investors looked forward to details of President Joe Biden's massive infrastructure and economic recovery plan.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite jumped 1.5 percent and the S&P 500 added 0.4 percent, while the Dow slipped 0.3 percent.

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