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Asia stocks up after Italian PM agrees to resign
Asian stocks up after Italian leader agrees to resign following approval of austerity measures
By The Associated Press

BANGKOK (AP) ' Asian stock markets turned higher Wednesday, with investment sentiment on the upswing after Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi promised to resign once his country passes a new budget.

Japan's Nikkei 225 index rose 1 percent to 8,742.32. South Korea's Kospi was 0.8 percent higher at 1,917.94. Hong Kong's Hang Seng jumped 2.3 percent to 20,122.28. Australia's S&P ASX 200 rose 1.5 percent to 4,359.

Benchmarks in Singapore, Taiwan, mainland China, Malaysia and the Philippines also rose.

Italy became a key focus for investors this week after doubts emerged that the country would go through with a tough package of austerity measures. Many investors saw Berlusconi as an obstacle to sweeping economic reforms needed to help Italy avoid sinking into a debt crisis.

Unlike Greece, Portugal or Ireland ' all of which have received financial lifelines ' Italy has too much debt to be rescued by its European neighbors.

Another market cue came from China, with the release Wednesday of data showing the country's stubbornly high inflation fell in October as rapid rises in food costs eased. The decline was seen positively by investors as it gives Beijing more room to stimulate China's economy.

On Wall Street on Tuesday, the Dow Jones industrial average rose 0.8 percent to close at 12,170.18. The S&P 500 rose 1.2 percent to 1,275.92. The Nasdaq composite rose 1.2 percent to 2,727.49. U.S. stock indexes fell early in the day after Berlusconi narrowly survived a confidence vote. But the market turned higher immediately after news reports said Berlusconi had promised to step down after economic reforms are passed. That is expected to happen next week.

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