Page last updated at 09:12 GMT, Friday, 24 July 2009 10:12 UK

Shares rally amid recovery hopes

A man walks past a stock market screen in Japan
Stocks rose for the eighth day in a row

Shares in Asia rose overnight, buoyed by upbeat results from the US which renewed hope for economy recovery.

Japan's Nikkei index rose for the eighth day in a row.

Shares in the region were also buoyed by strong growth figures from South Korea and better-than expected profits from Samsung Electronics.

In morning trade in Europe, markets in France, Germany and the UK were virtually unchanged, despite worse than expected UK GDP figures.

The UK economy shrank by 0.8% between April and June, more than double the figure economists had expected.

Shares in London, Paris, and Frankfurt, were ahead by between 0.3% and 0.6%. On Thursday, leading US and UK shares had closed at their highest levels for more than six months.

'Still cautious'

Japan's leading Nikkei index closed up 151.61 points, or 1.55%, at 9,944.55, its eighth straight day of gains.

Meanwhile Hong Kong's Hang Seng index was up 92 points to 19,909 after having briefly climbed above 20,000.

Shares in China also rose. The Shanghai Composite index was ahead 0.6% after hitting a 13-month intraday peak, taking this year's gains to 84%.

"The rally has gone on longer than expected," said Pearlyn Wong, an investment analyst at Bank Julius Baer. "We've probably seen the worst in terms of earnings but we're still quite cautious. Valuations have priced in a recovery."

"Global market sentiment continues to rise," said Ben Potter, an analyst at IG Markets in Australia. "The collapse of the housing market started this whole crisis and its recovery is certainly needed for any sustained economic improvement."

Beating forecasts

Asian shares had taken their lead from US stocks overnight. The Dow Jones index closed above 9,000 for the first time since January, up 188 points, or 2.1%, on the day. The FTSE 100 index closed up 66.07 points, or 1.5%, at 4,559.80, also its highest level since January.

Driving shares up was the news that sales of previously-owned US homes rose for the third month in a row in June, and at a quicker rate than expected.

The National Association of Realtors said sales rose 3.6% to an annual rate of 4.89 million last month, up from 4.77 million in May.

Ford also posted a better-than-expected quarterly profit of $2.3bn (£1.4bn).

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