Asian stocks higher on China lead

<p>Chinese shares recouped most of Monday’s losses. </p>

Asian stock markets rose today (January 21st), led by Chinese shares. The Shanghai index bounced higher for a second day, after plunging 7.7 per cent on Monday (January 19th) as regulators punished three major brokerages for rule violations. 

The world's second largest economy released data showing its economy grew faster than expected, with China's fourth quarter gross domestic product reaching 7.3 per cent from the year-ago period. This was slightly higher than the 7.2 per cent forecast by analysts.

This "was a relief to markets," Ric Spooner, chief analyst at CMC Markets in Sydney, told AP. "It paints a picture of slightly moderating overall growth with services sector growth going a fair way towards offsetting ongoing weakness in property."

Many in the markets were also speculating that the European Central Bank is to launch a large stimulus programme tomorrow.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng closed 1.7 per cent higher at 24,352.58 and China's Shanghai Composite Index soared 4.7 per cent to 3,323.61. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 gained 1.6 per cent to 5,393.40 and South Korea's Kospi edged up 0.2 per cent to 1,921.23. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 index was down 0.5 per cent to 17,280.48.

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