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Asian Markets Gain as French Election Eyed

Asian markets were mostly higher, following a strong session in Wall Street, ahead of the first round of the French presidential election on Sunday.

The polls showed a tightly contested presidential race, with centrist Emmanuel Macron and far-right candidate Marine Le Pen leading the pack ahead of the initial round and none of the candidates expected to command the 50 percent needed to win.

Markets in the region appeared to have brushed off headlines in Europe. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 index jumped 1.3 percent at 18,620.75 while South Korea's Kospi rose 0.74 percent at 2,165.04.

Australia's ASX 200 advanced 0.56 percent at 5,854.1, propelled by the materials and utilities sub indexes which gained 1.78 percent and 2.02 percent respectively.

Mainland Chinese shares were mixed as the Shanghai Composite added 0.03 percent at 3,173.152 and the Shenzhen Composite lost 0.443 percent at 1,920.225. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index was slightly higher by 0.09 percent.

Among shares active in corporate news, Western Digital is weighing a joint bid with Japanese government-supported players for Toshiba's semiconductor business, according to a report from Reuters. Shares of the Japanese firm fell 5.73 percent at 207.3 yen per stock.

Shares of Korean conglomerate Samsung Electronics climbed 1.19 percent ahead of the release of its new Galaxy S8 smartphone to finish at 2,038,000 won per stock. The firm said that pre-orders for the Galaxy S8 has exceeded those for the S7.

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