Asian equities rose Friday as investors, still buoyed by the China-US trade deal, turned their focus to earnings season and the global outlook, while they were also cheered by data indicating China's economy appears to be stabilising.

Apart from last week's blip caused by the US assassination of Iran's top general, markets have enjoyed a strong start to the new decade, building on the rally of late 2019.

The gains have been fanned by the "phase one" trade agreement as well as signs of improvement in worldwide economies, lower interest rates, government stimulus and easing Brexit concerns.

And with the prospect of a healthy batch of company reports, there are hopes for further advances.

"It's very hard to be bearish here," Linda Duessel, at Federated Investors Management, told Bloomberg TV. "We could have really good earnings surprises to the upside" as more profit reports roll in, she said.

All three main indexes on Wall Street ended at record highs Thursday, boosted by the Senate's approval of a new North American free-trade deal, while Google parent Alphabet joined Apple and Microsoft to become a trillion-dollar firm for the first time.

The positive energy funnelled through to Asia, where Hong Kong gained 0.6 percent, Tokyo ended 0.5 percent higher, Shanghai rose 0.1 percent and Sydney added 0.3 percent.

Seoul edged up 0.1 percent and Taipei put on 0.2 percent, with Mumbai, Bangkok, Wellington and Manila also well up.

Beijing added to the mood, releasing data that said the world's number two economy expanded 6.1 percent last year.

While that is the slowest pace in three decades and well down from 6.6 percent in 2018, it is in line with expectations and the government's target.

The six percent growth for October-December was the same as the previous quarter, while traders were also cheered by figures showing a better-than-forecast rise in retail sales, industrial output and investment.

The slowdown in growth in China has been a major headache for investors for the past few years as the country's leaders struggle with the US trade war, slowing global demand and a worrying debt mountain.

Still, while there is hope that 2020 could see healthy advances for equities, some doubt remains.

China's economy grew last year at its weakest pace since 1990, though signs that the slowdown is stabilising cheered investors Photo: AFP / NOEL CELIS

Progress on the next round of China-US talks "will continue to hog the limelight in 2020", said AxiTrader's Stephen Innes, who added that "trade discussions between the US and the EU remain open-ended, while the commencement of bilateral EU and the UK trade discussions could get thorny".

"But perhaps the real elephant in the room, the US (presidential) election in November, will also increasingly preoccupy investors as we move through the year."

In early European trade, London rose 0.4 percent, Frankfurt jumped 0.7 percent and Paris added 0.5 percent.

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 0.5 percent at 24,041.26 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: UP 0.6 percent at 29,056.42 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: UP 0.1 percent at 3,075.50 (close)

London - FTSE 100: UP 0.4 percent at 7,637.48

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1137 from $1.1136 at 2200 GMT

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.3077 from $1.3074

Euro/pound: DOWN at 85.16 pence from 85.18 pence

Dollar/yen: UP at 110.23 yen from 110.18 yen

Brent Crude: UP three cents at $64.65 per barrel

West Texas Intermediate: UP four cents at $58.56

New York - Dow: UP 0.9 percent at 29,297.64 (close)

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