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Asian Shares Gain on Yellen Remarks

Asian stocks moved higher on Thursday, with Japan extending its strong gains in the previous session, as the region was reassured by comments from the chairwoman of the U.S. Federal Reserve. The region took a positive lead from the U.S., where Wall Street moved higher, with the technology-heavy Nasdaq recovering from a selloff that saw Internet and biotechnology companies hit hard in recent sessions. Supporting regional sentiment was Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen, who gave a speech that emphasized a focus on low inflation, and reassured markets over continued low interest rates. Her comments came after a March policy meeting that left some investors worried that the Fed could be moving toward higher interest rates sooner than expected. Trading was thin in some markets, such as Australia and Hong Kong, that were about to enter a long Easter weekend. Australia's S&P ASX 200 added 0.5% and South Korea's Kospi was 0.2% higher. In Japan, the Nikkei was up 0.3% as the index added to a 3% surge on Wednesday, which was the result of a softer local currency as well as supportive comments from the Bank of Japan governor. The yen strengthened slightly in Asian trade, with the dollar giving up some of the 0.3% gain it made on Wednesday, and was last trading at Y102.10 to the dollar compared with Y102.23 late in New York. The dollar did, however, hold on to the Y102 mark that helped spark the stock gains in the previous session. In corporate news, Woodside Petroleum Ltd added 0.6% in Sydney after Australia's second-largest oil production company reported a 16% rise in first-quarter production, though it mentioned that it continues to be frustrated in its efforts to complete a deal to buy part of a giant natural-gas discovery. Also in Australia, oil company Santos Ltd. fell 1.3% as investors were disappointed by lower production, though higher oil sales led to a 28% increase in first-quarter revenue. Write to Daniel Inman at daniel.inman@wsj.com Subscribe to WSJ: http://online.wsj.com?mod=djnwires

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