Asian stock markets up despite signs of deepening slump

Asian stock markets rose Thursday, with Tokyo's index up nearly 2 percent, as gains on Wall Street offset alarming new signs the region's economies were slowing faster than expected amid plummeting demand for their goods. Japan's Nikkei 225 stock average gained 150.1 points, or 1.9 percent, at 8,051.74 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 1.8 percent to 12,804.94. South Korea's Kospi added 1.1 percent to 1,116.23, while markets in mainland China, Australia, Singapore and India also gained. Despite the modest rises in most markets, trade was relatively cautious amid a maelstrom of bad news about the region's biggest economies. China's economic slump deepened in the fourth quarter, with growth sliding to 6.8 percent from 9 percent the previous quarter and 10.6 percent in the first quarter. For the full year, China's economy expanded by 9 percent - its slowest yearly growth since 2001.