Asia stocks higher on China recovery optimism
BANGKOK (AP) -- Asian stock markets edged up Monday on optimism that China’s economic recovery is firmly taking root.
Analysts expect China’s fourth quarter and 2012 growth figures due Friday to show the world’s No. 2 economy continuing to bounce back from its worst slump since the 2008 financial crisis.
Sentiment improved last week after Japan announced a $224 billion stimulus package to boost its recession- and deflation-mired economy. A strong economic recovery has eluded Japan for more than 20 years since the bursting of its financial bubble in the early 1990s.
China, meanwhile, reported improving exports and imports last week, a sign of higher demand both inside and outside the country. Analysts expect to see more signs of improvement when China releases a slew of data on Friday, including factory output, investment and retail sales.
"We are on the optimistic side of the market," Dariusz Kowalczyk of Credit Agricole CIB in Hong Kong said in an email commentary. "Such an outcome would put to rest any remaining doubt about China escaping a hard landing and sailing smoothly through the troubled global waters."
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 0.4 percent to 23,346.23. South Korea’s Kospi added 0.2 percent to 2,000.39 and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 advanced 0.2 percent to 4,719.20.
Mainland China’s Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.2 percent to 2,248.38. Japan’s financial markets were closed for a public holiday.
In the U.S., stock indexes were mixed Friday as company earnings reports started to come in. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index dipped slightly below its highest close in five years, which it reached the day before.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 0.1 percent to 13,488.43. The S&P 500 fell marginally to 1,472.05. The Nasdaq composite index rose 0.1 percent to 3,125.63.
Benchmark oil for February delivery was up 59 cents to $94.15 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract dropped 26 cents to finish at $93.56 a barrel in New York on Friday.
In currencies, the euro rose to $1.3399 from $1.3338 late Friday in New York. The dollar rose to 89.48 yen from 89.20 yen.
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