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Asian stocks mixed on US earnings, goods orders

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BEIJING (AP) — Asian stocks were mixed Friday after solid earnings for Apple and Caterpillar and better U.S. durable goods orders.

Oil gained to stay above $101 after Ukraine launched an operation to drive pro-Russian insurgents out of occupied buildings in the country's east, and Moscow responded by announcing military exercises.

Tokyo's Nikkei 225 index gained 0.6 percent to 14,495.57, rebounding from a 1 percent plunge a day earlier after talks between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Barack Obama failed to produce a trade agreement.

China's benchmark Shanghai Composite Index added 0.2 percent to 2,061.05 while Hong Kong, Taiwan, Seoul and Jakarta fell.

Markets in Australia and New Zealand were closed for a holiday.

Solid earnings from Apple, Caterpillar and some other U.S. companies helped to reassure markets. But relief was mixed with concern about higher U.S. unemployment claims, which dampened enthusiasm about gains in durable goods orders.

The number of people seeking U.S. unemployment benefits jumped 24,000 to a seasonally adjusted 329,000 last week while durable goods orders rose 2.6 percent in March. That helped to recover some ground lost to declines in December and January.

"Durable goods are grinding their way back to pre-December norms but that's about it," DBS Group said in a report.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng shed 0.7 percent to 22,405.80, while Taiwan's Taiex was off 1 percent at 8,853.69. Seoul's Kospi fell 0.6 percent to 1,986.71.

In Europe, Britain's FTSE 100 closed up 0.4 percent on Thursday. Germany's DAX rose 0.1 percent and the CAC-40 in France ended 0.6 percent higher.

On Wall Street, Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 0.2 percent and the Nasdaq composite added 0.5 percent. The Dow Jones industrial average closed unchanged.

Apple and Facebook earnings helped to reassure investors who have been concerned over the past month that technology stocks might be overvalued.

Crude for May delivery added 5 cents to $101.99 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange amid worry Russia-Ukraine tensions might hurt Russian exports. The contract added 50 cents on Thursday to close at $101.94.

In currency markets, the dollar was up 0.1 percent at 102.42 yen and the euro was steady at $1.384.

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