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Asian, European Markets Extend U.S. Advance

Asian shares raced to two-week highs on Wednesday, with investor confidence getting a much-needed boost from upbeat U.S. data and diminishing concerns over the Ukraine/Crimea crisis.MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS rose 1.1 percent to its highest level since March 11, while Japan's Nikkei .N225 ticked up 0.3 percent.European shares are expected to follow suit, with both Germany's DAX .GDAX and France's CAC .FCHI seen rising 0.4 percent.U.S. consumer confidence rose more than expected in March, to its highest level since January 2008 and U.S. house prices increased solidly in January.The two reports were the latest in a string of positive reads on the U.S. economy, adding more credence to the view that softness earlier this year was related to bad weather and not inherent economic weakness.The upbeat data helped Wall Street shares rebound after a two-day decline, with the Standard & Poor's 500 Index .SPX gaining 0.4 percent.Risk appetite also got ...

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