News of a steep drop in new unemployment benefits claims in the United States sent stocks in Asia and Europe up Friday. Unemployment claims for the week dropped to 364,000, their lowest level in three-and-a-half years.
Australian stocks ( EWA , quote ) surged 1.20%. Those gains were followed by Seoul's KOSPI ( EWY , quote ), which climbed 1.07%, Chinese shares ( YAO , quote ), which rebounded 0.85%, and Singaporean shares ( EWS , quote ), which rose 0.44%.
Tokyo's Nikkei was closed in observance of Emperor Akihito's birthday.
After falling 4.9% immediately after news broke of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il's death, the KOSPI closed with a 1.5% weekly gain.
The mood in Asia lpushed markets up in Europe during early trading, with banks in particular benefiting. Shares of Bank Santander ( STD , quote ) rose 2.47%, while BNP Paribas stock ( BNPQY , quote ) climbed 0.64%
Shares Gloucester Coal of surged 21.6% after it was announced China's Yanzhou Coal ( YZC , quote ) would merge its Australian unit with the company.
Meanwhile, economic growth in Vietnam ( VNM , quote ) looks set to slow to about 5.9% in 2011, compared to 6.78% in 2010.
China's yuan depreciated 0.04% to 6.3365 to the dollar.
In Europe, the British pound rose 0.04% to $1.5682. The euro appreciated 0.15% to $1.3069.
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