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Asian stocks jump on Yellen easy-money remarks

TOKYO - Global stocks were higher Wednesday after the new head of the Federal Reserve vowed a continuation of low interest rates. Stronger Chinese trade figures and the shelving of another U.S. debt limit battle also boosted markets.

Gains in Asia outpaced Europe where trading was more muted. Britain's FTSE 100 added 0.1 percent to 6,680.93 and France's CAC 40 rose 0.3 percent to 4,294.79. Germany's DAX climbed 0.5 percent to 9,522.13. Futures augured a higher open on Wall Street, with Dow and S&P 500 futures both up 0.1 percent.

Yellen's remarks worked to calm some of the jitters in global markets about slowing growth in China, the world's No. 2 economy.

"Basically, it's all about her comments," said Takuya Takahashi, strategist at Daiwa Securities Co. in Tokyo.

Worries about China's economy were also eased after the government reported faster growth in imports and exports for January.

Japan's Nikkei 225 gained 0.6 percent to finish at 14,800.06. Japanese markets were closed Tuesday for a national holiday.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng surged 1.5 percent to 22,285.79 and South Korea's Kospi added 0.2 percent to 1,935.84. Markets in Southeast Asia, Australia and India also gained.

China's Shanghai Composite Index was 0.3 percent higher.

Stock markets were also lifted by U.S. lawmakers avoiding another high-stakes battle over the government's debt limit, said Hiromichi Tamura, chief strategist at Nomura Securities Co. in Tokyo. 

Congress votes to raise the debt ceiling 04:23
 House Republicans backed away from a fight over the government's debt cap on Tuesday and permitted President Barack Obama's Democratic allies to drive quick passage of a measure to increase the government's borrowing so it can pay its bills and avoid a default ahead of the November elections

Benchmark U.S. crude for March delivery was up 58 cents to $100.53 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It fell 12 cents to $99.94 on Tuesday.

In currency trading, the dollar cost 102.48 yen late afternoon in Asia, down slightly from 102.52 late Tuesday. The euro rose to $1.3640 from $1.3630.

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