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Stocks rise on interest rates vow

Asian stock markets were mostly higher after the US central bank pledged to keep interest rates low for another three years to nurture the country's stubbornly slow economic recovery.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index jumped 1.1% to 20,322.51 on its first trading day since the Chinese New Year holiday.

South Korea's Kospi rose 0.2% to 1,956.14. Benchmarks in Singapore and New Zealand also rose.

Japan's Nikkei was 0.4% lower at 8,846.96, following strong gains a day earlier.

Markets in Taiwan and mainland Chinese remained closed for the Chinese New Year. The Australian market was closed for a public holiday.

On Wednesday, the US Federal Open Market Committee said it was unlikely to raise interest rates before late 2014. It had previously said it expected to keep rates low into the middle of 2013.

The Fed cut rates to near zero in December 2008, during the financial crisis, and has held them there ever since. The announcement was a sign that the Fed expects the economy, which is improving, to need significant help for three more years.

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