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Asia-Pacific Markets Rise Slightly

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03/08/2018 | 03:00am CEST

By Ese Erheriene

Asia-Pacific stocks were higher Thursday after markets in the U.S. and Europe stabilized following weakness due to top White House economic adviser Gary Cohn's resignation.

Regional indexes were generally up about 0.5% in morning trading.

"There are still too many unanswered questions to think it safe to increase exposures to risk assets with any real conviction," said Chris Weston, chief market strategist at IG Group.

The Nikkei Stock Average was recently up 0.8%, aided by an overnight pullback in the yen following a haven rally triggered by Mr. Cohn's resignation. Electronics stocks were strong, with Nintendo and Sharp rising about 3%.

Japanese economic growth was revised strongly higher Thursday, with fourth-quarter expansion put at 1.6% on an annualized basis. Meanwhile, Australia's trade surplus was much stronger than expected in January.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch "continues to see growth at an above-trend pace of 3% over 2018" for Australia, "with the signal outlook for business investment improving."

In commodities, oil futures rose 0.3% from Wednesday's U.S. settlement following fresh selling. The U.S. and global benchmarks slid 2% as U.S. output hit fresh record highs last week.

And bitcoin has ticked back up toward $10,000, according to CoinDesk, after falling 10% in an hour during midday U.S. trading. The selling followed reports about a major bitcoin exchange having problems executing orders.

Looking ahead, investors will be watching for China trade data later Thursday morning and announcements following the European Central Bank's meeting. But "it is widely expected that the central bank will maintain [the] status quo and continue to adopt an accommodative monetary stance, " said Commerzbank.

Write to Ese Erheriene at ese.erheriene@wsj.com

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