Asian shares mostly up on US and Japan data

<p>Markets also welcomes an ECB boost in its bond purchases.</p>

Asian shares were mostly up today (May 20th) on new data showing new residential construction in the US jumped to the highest level in more than seven years in April, fuelling hopes that the country's economy will bounce back after disappointing GDP growth data in Q1.

A surprise announcement from Benoit Coeure, a top European Central Bank official, also boosted sentiment. He said the bank will increase May and June bond purchases in a bid to stimulate the eurozone's economic recovery.

Meanwhile, Japan's better-than-expected economic growth lifted the Nikkei to a 15-year high. The benchmark Nikkei 225 rose 0.9 per cent to 20,196.6, the highest closing level since April 14, 2000.

Asia's second-largest economy expanded an annualised 2.4 per cent from the previous quarter, beating forecasts for growth of 1.5 per cent.

South Korea's Kospi gained 0.9 per cent to 2,139.61, China's Shanghai Composite Index rose two per cent to 4,507.35. Hong Kong's Hang Seng was little changed at 27,686.45. However, markets in Singapore and Taiwan were lower.

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