Asian stock markets strengthened today, the last day of a tumultuous trading year, after Wall Street posted gains following a spurt of positive US economic data.

Benchmark oil rose above 100 US dollars per barrel and the dollar weakened against the yen and the euro.

Japan's Nikkei 225 index, after three straight days of losses, rose 0.4% to 8,429.45.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index gained 0.4% to 18,466.57. Benchmarks in mainland China, Malaysia, Indonesia and New Zealand were also higher.

Australia's S&P ASX 200 fell 0.1% to 4,065.40. Taiwan and Singapore were also lower.

South Korea's benchmark Kospi, whose last trading session of the year was yesterday, nosedived in lockstep with other key Asian indexes that suffered from the effects of natural disasters, a swelling European debt crisis, and a wobbly recovery in the US.

China's benchmark Shanghai Composite Index lost 21% in 2011 as the impact of Beijing's multibillion-dollar stimulus faded and the government tightened curbs on lending and investment to cool blistering economic growth.

Japan's benchmark Nikkei lost a fifth of its value over the past year, starting with a plunge after the March 11 tsunami and earthquake disaster that destroyed huge chunks of the island nation's north eastern region, left 20,000 people dead or missing and set off the world's worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl.

Disaster damage extended to key suppliers for major companies like Toyota and Sony, which suffered production disruptions. Later, severe flooding in Thailand caused similar problems for carmakers, including Honda, but on a smaller scale.

The Nikkei recouped some losses by July, but then started a decline that has the benchmark hovering at below the March value.

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