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Stocks rise over US jobs optimism

Strong retail sales and a better-than-expected jobs report from the US helped boost Asian stock markets.

Government figures showing the number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits for the first time rose to 367,000 last week.

That was seen as good news, since it was fewer than economists had forecast.

"With factory orders and initial jobless claims beating consensus, concern about the US economic outlook eased," said analysts at Credit Agricole CIB in Hong Kong in an email commentary.

Retail sales also beat forecasts, even though the 5.2% drop in orders was the biggest in more than three years.

Japan's Nikkei 225 index rose 0.4% to 8,860.45. South Korea's Kospi added 0.3% to 1,997.84 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 0.2% to 20,958.21. Benchmarks in Taiwan and New Zealand also rose. Singapore's fell.

Later in the day, the Bank of Japan will announce the outcome of its two-day policy meeting. The central bank is widely expected to leave its monetary policy unchanged, Kyodo News reported.

The key event this week comes later on Friday, when the US Labour Department releases its monthly jobs report - a key indicator of growth in the world's largest economy. Economists forecast that the unemployment rate inched up to 8.2% in September from 8.1% in August.

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