(MENAFN- AFP) Asian stock markets rose on Monday following robust gains on Wall Street, despite disappointing Japanese growth figures which dampened hopes for a strong recovery.
Global markets rallied last week following a turbulent period, as investors were reassured that the US economy could handle the Federal Reserve's decision to reduce its stimulus programme.Gold touched fresh three-month highs Monday following a rally last week, while oil prices held above $100 a barrel in Asian trade following a surge in bank lending in China, the world's top energy consumer.On Monday Tokyo's benchmark Nikkei 225 index rose 0.56 percent, or 80.08 points, after a volatile session to end at 14,393.11. Seoul climbed 0.31 percent or 6.08 points to 1,946.36 and Sydney rose 0.50 percent or 26.6 points to close at 5,382.9.Hong Kong closed up 1.07 percent, or 237.53 points, at 22,535.94, and Shanghai climbed 0.92 percent.Chinese shares were buoyed by an easing in credit conditions as hopes grew for supportive government policies, dealers said.The benchmark Shanghai Composite finished up 19.56 points, at 2,135.41 on turnover of 126.2 billion yuan ($20.8 billion).The Shenzhen Composite Index, which tracks stocks on China's second exchange, vaulted 1.93 percent, or 22.00 points higher, to 1,160.39 on turnover of 181.8 billion yuan."Cash flow has improved, the crunch before Lunar New Year has passed, which is good news for the market," Zheshang Securities analyst Zhang Yanbing told AFP."Investors are also upbeat ahead of the 'two sessions'," he added, referring to twin official meetings due next month.Data released Monday showed Japan's economy expanded 1.6 percent last year, in the first annual figure since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe launched a policy blitz dubbed Abenomics.However investors were disappointed by GDP growth of just 0.3 percent in the October-December quarter, and fretted that a sales tax rise in April could derail the budding recovery."What's worrisome is consumption. Even though some front-loaded demand ahead of the sales tax increases has started helping it, that hasn't increased much," Masamichi Adachi, a senior economist at JPMorgan Securities, told Dow Jones Newswires.- Wall Street gains -US stocks vaulted higher Friday as investors shrugged off a report showing poor industrial output last month as being mainly weather-related.The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 126.80 (0.79 percent) to 16,154.39.The broad-based S&P 500 rose 8.80 (0.48 percent) to 1,838.63, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index tacked on 3.35 (0.08 percent) to 4,244.03.In currency trade the dollar rose to 101.95 yen on Monday afternoon after falling earlier in the session, compared with 101.81 yen in New York Friday. The euro was mixed in Asian trade at 139.67 yen and $1.3706 from 139.42 yen and $1.3715 in US trade.Oil prices were higher in the late afternoon, after crude futures reached multi-month highs last week on improved demand prospects from China and the US.New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate for March delivery, rose 51 cents to 100.81. Europe's benchmark contract, Brent North Sea crude for April, gained two cents to $109.10.Analysts said a rise in bank lending in China had helped to prop up oil demand, while extremely cold weather in the United States was helping push oil prices higher."China's credit news showed that the credit increased and that there is still growth there. Maybe it is not as fast but it is still moving along," Kelly Teoh, market strategist at IG markets in Singapore, told AFP.China's bank loans surged to around 1.3 trillion yuan in January, the central People's Bank of China said over the weekend, with some analysts interpreting the rise as a response to the slowing economy.Gold fetched $1,325.00 an ounce at 0900 GMT compared with $1,309.30 late Friday, when it rose above the $1,300 mark for the first time since November.In other markets:-- Manila closed 0.89 percent higher, or 54.16 points, to 6,167.82.Top-traded Metropolitan Bank and Trust Co. gained 2.39 percent to 81.50 pesos and SM Investments Corp. rose 0.07 percent to 703.50 pesos.-- Taipei edged up 0.07 percent, or 5.87 points, to 8,519.55.Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co was 0.93 percent higher at Tw$108.5, while leading chip design house MediaTek edged down 0.58 percent to Tw$429.0. -- Wellington edged up 0.13 percent, or 6.59 points, to 4,894.99.Fletcher Building gained 0.63 percent to NZ$9.54 ahead of interim results Wednesday, while Air New Zealand was steady on NZ$1.695.
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