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Asia Stocks Climb as Nikkei 225 Hits 15-Year High on GDP Growth

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Asian stocks climbed as the Nikkei 225 Stock Average closed at the highest since April 2000 after data showed Japan’s economy grew faster than expected.

Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd., which gets 60 percent of its sales in North America, rose 1.5 percent as the yen weakened on U.S. housing data. DHC Software Co. added 2.9 percent in Shenzhen as a gauge of Chinese technology stocks rallied on state plans to boost innovation. Hanergy Thin Film Power Group Ltd. plunged 47 percent in Hong Kong before trading was halted on the day of its annual general meeting.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index added less than 0.1 percent to 153.07 as of 4:05 p.m. in Hong Kong, with about five shares rising for every four that fell. The Nikkei 225 gained 0.9 percent after a report that Japan’s economy expanded an annualized 2.4 percent in the first quarter from three months earlier, beating estimates for a 1.6 percent increase.

“Compared to Europe or the U.S., the Japanese economy is the most resilient and this is being taken extremely favorably,” said Hideo Kumano, chief economist at Dai-ichi Life Research Institute Inc. in Tokyo. “Earnings are favorable and now first-quarter growth is strong, so both of these factors seem to be contributing to a shift from weaker to stronger sentiment.”

Yen Slides

The Topix advanced 0.6 percent to 1,643.40, its highest close since October 2007. The yen weakened to 120.96 against the dollar after data Tuesday showed U.S. residential construction surged in April to the highest since November 2007. Investors are examining U.S. data ahead of the release of minutes Wednesday from the Federal Reserve’s April meeting for clues as to when the central bank will hike rates.

“The much-better-than-expected U.S. housing data shortened the odds on a 2015 increase in the Fed funds rate,” said Tony Farnham, an analyst at Patersons Securities Ltd. in Sydney.

The Shanghai Composite Index added 0.7 percent. The CSI 300 Index’s technology gauge jumped 1.5 percent to a record on a Xinhua News Agency report that China will boost incentives for industries including information technology and robotics. The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index of mainland firms listed in Hong Kong added 0.3 percent, while the benchmark Hang Seng Index slid 0.4 percent.

South Korea’s Kospi index climbed 0.9 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index retreated 0.1 percent, while New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index closed little changed.

E-mini futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index fell 0.1 percent. The underlying gauge lost 0.1 percent on Tuesday.

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