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Asian Equities Extend Gain As Italy Calms Turmoil

Asian equities extended their gains in afternoon trade on Thursday – Asian equities extended their gains in afternoon trade on Thursday, with easing concerns over political turmoil in Italy driving the upswing.

A rally in the U.S. stock markets on Wednesday boosted the major Asian stock markets, which all opened in an up note on Thursday morning. Italy has been unable to form a government since an election in early March. The country is stuck in a dramatic power struggle between euroskeptic populists and pro-EU establishment lawmakers, which clouded the euro's prospect and sent shockwaves to global markets.

But both sides renewed efforts to build a coalition rather than force new elections, easing investors' concerns. Italy also successfully auctioned off five and 10-year bonds.

As sentiment and risk appetite improved, major Asian stock markets in in Tokyo, Hong Kong, Seoul, Singapore and mainland China all continued to trade up, rising higher.

The Shanghai Composite and Shenzhen Component traded 1.37% and 1.25% higher by 1:30PM ET (04:30 GMT). Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index gained 0.8%.

Meanwhile, China reported the official manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) for May came in at 51.9, beating market expectations of a 51.3 reading that would have been lower than the 51.4 reported in April. Boosted by the data, Inner Mongolia Yili Industrial Group Co Ltd (SS:600887) surged 8.65%. The services PMI also edged up to 54.9 in May from 54.8 in April.

Japan's Nikkei 225 added 0.5%, and South Korea's KOSPI was up 0.38%.

Japan reported weaker-than-expected industrial production figures on Thursday morning, which rose 0.3% in April from a month earlier, much lower than the expected 1.4% increase. Despite the soft data, industrial stocks rose, with Sumitomo Osaka Cement Co., Ltd. (T:5232) up 6.85% and Tokai Carbon Co., Ltd. (T:5301)up 6.64%.

Down under, Australia's ASX edged up 0.42% in afternoon trade.

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