Asian stocks up slightly on improving US home data

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By PAMELA SAMPSON, Associated Press

BANGKOK (AP) — Asian stock markets edged up Wednesday as rising home prices in the U.S. eased jitters over the robustness of the world's No. 1 economy.

A report showing that U.S. home prices rose 1.3 percent in April, indicating an uptick a sector closely tied to the health of the overall economy, helped send Wall Street higher on Tuesday. The increase in April was the first in seven months.

The data was a sorely needed bright spot amid signs that a solution to Europe's debt crisis is not close at hand. Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.7 percent to 19,110.29. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 added 0.6 percent to 4,038.60. But South Korea's Kospi fell 0.3 percent to 1,813.08.

Japan's Nikkei 225 was nearly unchanged at 8,664.20 as traders awaited the start Thursday of a summit in Brussels where European Union leaders will try to reach an agreement on dealing with the continent's chronic debt crisis.

Analysts at Credit Agricole CIB in Hong Kong said in a commentary that they expect markets to be in a holding pattern ahead of the EU summit.

On Tuesday, the Dow Jones industrial average rose 0.3 percent to close at 12,534.67. The Standard & Poor's 500 index gained 0.5 percent to 1,319.99. The Nasdaq composite rose 0.6 percent to 2,854.06.

Benchmark oil for August delivery was up 10 cents at $79.46 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 15 cents to settle at $79.36 in New York on Tuesday.

In currencies, the dollar fell slightly to 79.44 yen from 79.47 yen late Tuesday in New York. The euro was nearly unchanged at $1.2500.

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