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Asian stock markets continue rally after Fed's rate pledge, Sony down

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SEOUL, South Korea — Asian stocks rallied for a second day Friday after the Federal Reserve's reassurance it was in no hurry to hike interest rates. But shares of Sony Corp. dropped as a hacking scandal rocked its American movies unit.

KEEPING SCORE: Japan's Nikkei 225 jumped 2.4 percent to 17,621.40 and South Korea's Kospi added 1.7 percent 1,929.98. Hong Kong's Hang Seng advanced 1.3 percent to 23,135.42 while Australia's S&P/ASX 200 jumped 2.5 percent to 5,338.60. Stocks in Southeast Asia, Taiwan, India and New Zealand also rose.

THE QUOTE: "The momentum from yesterday's Fed announcement has continued to resonate through global markets," said Stan Shamu, a market strategist at IG. "The surprising fact is that equities are rallying despite analysts still believing rates will lift off in the middle of next year."

FED MEETING: Fed Chair Janet Yellen said Wednesday that she foresaw no rate hike in the first quarter of 2015 and the Fed will be "patient" in deciding when to do so. The comments eased concerns that policymakers would start raising interest rates at a time when growth outside the U.S. appears to be flagging. They also helped investors look past worries about the impact of a slumping oil price and turmoil in Russia, where the currency has slumped.

PHOTO: A pedestrian looks at an electronic stock board of a securities firm in Tokyo, Friday, Dec. 19, 2014. Asian stocks rallied for a second day Friday after the Federal Reserve's reassurance it was in no hurry to hike interest rates. But shares of Sony Corp. dropped as a hacking scandal rocked its American movies unit. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
A pedestrian looks at an electronic stock board of a securities firm in Tokyo, Friday, Dec. 19, 2014. Asian stocks rallied for a second day Friday after the Federal Reserve's reassurance it was in no hurry to hike interest rates. But shares of Sony Corp. dropped as a hacking scandal rocked its American movies unit. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

SONY DIVE: Shares of Sony closed 1.3 percent lower in Tokyo amid the fallout from last month's hack of computer systems at Sony Pictures Entertainment. The studio's reputation is in tatters as embarrassing revelations spill from tens of thousands of leaked emails that could damage its relationships with stars and give other studios an advantage. American investigators have linked North Korea to the hack of the Hollywood company and Sony Pictures cancelled the release of "The Interview," a movie that spoofs an assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

SAMSUNG SURGE: Shares of Samsung Electronics Co. finished 4.9 percent higher after the company said it might increase dividends by as much as 50 percent. The company said it will finalize its dividend plan late next month. Samsung's share price has underperformed due to concerns about shrinking sales of Galaxy smartphones. Shareholders have pressured the company to pay more dividends from its large cash reserves.

WALL STREET: The Dow Jones industrial average had its biggest surge in three years partly driven by bullish earnings from technology giant Oracle. The index gained 2.4 percent to 17,778.15. The Standard & Poor's 500 rose 2.4 percent to 2,061.23. The Nasdaq Composite rose 2.2 percent to 4,748.40.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude was up 59 cents to $54.70 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract sank $2.36 to close Wednesday at $54.11 a barrel, after rising as high as $58.71 in morning trading. Oil has plunged since June, when it peaked at $107 a barrel. Overproduction and weak demand are behind the fall in global oil.

CURRENCIES: The euro advanced to $1.2286 from $1.2279 late Thursday. The dollar rose to 119.22 yen from 118.94 yen.

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PHOTO: A pedestrian looks at an electronic stock board of a securities firm in Tokyo, Friday, Dec. 19, 2014. Asian stocks rallied for a second day Friday after the Federal Reserve's reassurance it was in no hurry to hike interest rates. But shares of Sony Corp. dropped as a hacking scandal rocked its American movies unit. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
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