HONG KONG - Asian markets were mostly higher and the euro enjoyed strong support Friday as spirits were lifted by comments from German Chancellor Angela Merkel reasserting her desire to save the eurozone.

Tokyo's Nikkei added to the previous day's healthy gains, advancing 0.77 percent, or 69.74 points, to 9,162.20 as the yen eased further against the dollar with dealers confident enough to move out of the safe haven Japanese unit. Sydney climbed 0.92 percent, or 39.9 points, to 4,370.1 but Seoul eased 0.58 percent, or 11.37 points, to 1,946.54.

Hong Kong added 0.77 percent, to 153.12 points, to 20,116.07 and Shanghai climbed 0.13 percent, or 2.69 points, to 2,114.89.

Merkel, who as head of Europe's biggest economy is key to the success of any plan to save the euro, said Thursday she backed European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi's commitment to do whatever was needed to support the currency.

On a visit to Canada she said: "What he said is something that we repeated time and again," since the Greece crisis began more than two years ago, "that we feel committed to do everything we can in order to maintain the common currency".

She said the ECB was "completely in line with what we've said all along" and its decision to set conditions on bond-buying was "a positive development for the euro-area".

The comments were seen by traders as a sign she could be warming to the idea of the ECB buying up bonds of troubled sovereign states such as Spain and Italy, which have seen their borrowing costs soar to danger levels recently.

Global markets have been enjoying gains over the past few weeks on expectations the bank will restart the bond-buying programme. The euro was given a strong lift in New York on Merkel's remarks and it held up in Asia. The single currency bought $1.2375 and 98.37 yen in early European trade, compared with $1.2358 and 98.06 yen in New York and well up from the $1.2270 and 97.15 yen it fetched in Asia Thursday.

The yen was also lower against the dollar, with the upbeat outlook providing support to riskier assets, while expectations of another round of US Federal Reserve pump priming are also easing.

The dollar fetched 79.47 yen, from 79.33 yen in New York late Thursday.

The greenback was helped by US data on new jobless claims and housing construction, which provided more evidence that the world's biggest economy is growing steadily, albeit slowly.

Weekly numbers for new unemployment insurance claims, an indicator of the pace of layoffs, came in as expected and in the same range as the past four months, while July data on new housing construction, although slightly down from June, showed an industry steadily picking up pace.

On Wall Street the Dow rose 0.65 percent, the S&P 500 added 0.71 percent and the Nasdaq climbed 1.04 percent.

But Facebook shares plunged 6.3 percent to a new low of $19.87 as the lockup period for sales by pre-IPO investors ended. The company's share price has almost halved since its May 18 initial share offering at $38.

Oil prices eased. New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) light sweet crude for delivery in September, was down 49 cents to $95.11 a barrel and Brent North Sea crude for October delivery sank $1.12 to $114.15.

Gold was at $1,617.34 at 1030 GMT, compared to $1,604.00 on Thursday.

In other markets:

-- Singapore closed flat, dipping 0.78 points to 3,062.11.

Oil-rig maker Keppel Corp. was up 0.52 percent at Sg$11.58 and property developer CapitaLand eased 0.98 percent to Sg$3.03.

-- Taipei slipped 0.30 percent, or 22.29 points, to 7,467.92.

TSMC fell 1.21 percent to Tw$82.0 while Formosa Plastics was 0.96 percent lower at Tw$82.7.

Manila closed 0.24 percent lower, shedding 12.70 points to 5,206.81.

Metropolitan Bank and Trust fell 1.41 percent to 91 pesos and Ayala Land lost 0.67 percent to 22.30 pesos.

Wellington gained 0.65 percent, or 23.46 points, to end at 3,639.66.

Fletcher Building rose 1.2 percent to NZ$6.55 and Contact Energy gained 0.62 percent to NZ$4.90 but Telecom slipped 2.5 percent to NZ$2.69.

-- Kuala Lumpur was almost unchanged, nudging down 0.30 points to 1,649.79.

Axiata Group gained 2.0 percent to 6 ringgit, YTL Corp was down 2.6 percent at 1.86 ringgit and Petronas Dagangan lost 2.3 percent to 22.38 ringgit.

-- Bangkok was flat, easing 0.49 points to 1,223.91.

Power firm EGCO dropped 2.50 percent to 117.00 baht, while supermarket operator BIG C rose 2.74 percent to 187.50 baht.

-- India's Sensex index rose 0.19 percent or 33.87 points to 17,691.08.

Vehicle maker Tata Motors rose 2.12 percent to 240.25 rupees, while IT outsourcer Infosys rose 1.61 percent to 2,351.4 rupees.

Jakarta was closed for a public holiday.