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BEIJING (AP) ó Asian stocks rebounded Friday from Tokyo's sharp decline after investors were encouraged by positive U.S. economic news.

Oil stayed above $96 a barrel on signs of steady American hiring and stronger retail sales despite mounting signs of weakness in China's economic recovery.

Tokyo's Nikkei 225, the regional heavyweight, gained 2.9 percent to 7,972.95, rebounding from Thursday's 6.4 percent plunge that took the index into "bear market" territory.

China's benchmark Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.2 percent to 2,150.25, coming off Thursday's 2.8 percent slide to its lowest close in six months. Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 1.3 percent to 21,164.68 and Seoul added 0.3 percent to 1,888.17.

Markets that are jittery about the possibility the U.S. Federal Reserve might wind down its stimulus were steadied by data showing U.S. retail sales rose 0.6 percent in May, their strongest showing in six months. The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits was smaller than expected last week.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average rose 1.2 percent Thursday and the Standard & Poor's 500 index added 1.5 percent. Markets in France, Britain and Germany also rose.

In currency markets, the dollar fell to 94.92 yen from 94.87 yen late Thursday in New York. The euro edged down to $1.3350 from $1.3345.

Benchmark oil for July delivery was flat at $96.69 after gaining 81 cents on Thursday on improved U.S. economic data.