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Asian stocks up as Europe announces new debt steps
BANGKOK (AP) — Investors waded into Asian stocks Thursday, heartened by new efforts by European leaders to strengthen their continent's banks and deal with Greece's massive debts.

Japan's Nikkei 225 index gained 1.2 percent to 8,839.13 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng index was 1.3 percent higher at 18,563.34. South Korea's Kospi index rose 1 percent to 1,828.67. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.7 percent to 4,232.30.
Benchmarks in Taiwan, Malaysia and the Philippines also rose, while those in Singapore, Shanghai and New Zealand fell.

On Wednesday, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso called for European banks to raise billions in new capital and for a stricter accounting of their exposure to sovereign debt. Barroso also called for a permanent bailout fund to come into force by mid-2012, one year ahead of schedule.

Barroso's proposals for helping Europe's struggling banks fueled investor appetite for riskier assets like stocks, analysts said.

"Risk appetite improved, bank stocks rallied ... after EC President Jose Barroso pledged for urgent recapitalizing of European banks," Credit Agricole CIB said in a research note.

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