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Asia: Stocks rise after US jobs data; Japanese shares retreat

[SINGAPORE] Asian stocks rose, following US shares higher, as expectations for an immediate hike in US interest rates remained low even after better-than-expected economic reports.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index climbed 0.4 per cent to 126.49 as of 9:19 am in Tokyo, after slumping last week by the most since Feb 12. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index rose to its 2016 high on Friday after data showed employment and wages picked up in March, while US manufacturing expanded for the first time in seven months. The chance of a hike at the Fed's next meeting fell to zero after Chair Janet Yellen reaffirmed the go-slow approach in a speech last week.

"Yellen is exceptionally dovish," Mark Matthews, head of Asia research and a managing director at Bank Julius Baer & Co in Singapore, said on Bloomberg radio.

"She's probably going to let the recovery run hot for a while. This is all great for stocks."

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Japan's Topix index and South Korea's Kospi index were little changed.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 Index and New Zealand's S&P/NZX 50 Index added 0.2 per cent.

Markets in mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan are shut for holidays today.

The Shanghai Composite Index added 0.2 per cent on Friday, rebounding in late trading as a surprise jump in an official factory gauge increased optimism about the economy and speculation grew that state-backed funds intervened to support the market after Standard & Poor's cut the nation's credit-rating outlook.

Futures on the S&P 500 Index slipped 0.1 per cent on Monday. The US equity benchmark index gained 0.6 per cent on Friday to the highest close since Dec 29. The nation's payrolls grew by 215,000 workers last month, more than the 205,000 predicted by economists, and February's increase was revised to 245,000. The unemployment rate rose to 5 per cent from 4.9 per cent, according to the government data released Friday.

Oil extended last session's tumble, which wiped out its 2016 gains, after Saudi Arabia backed away from a commitment to freeze crude output. West Texas Intermediate crude slumped as much as 1.6 per cent to as low as US$36.22 a barrel Monday, extending Friday's 4 per cent tumble. Brent fell as much as 1.1 per cent.

BLOOMBERG

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