[HONG KONG] Tokyo stocks chalked up a 12th straight gain on Monday, their best run in more than a quarter of a century, while Shanghai and Hong Kong rebounded as data indicated a pick-up in Chinese manufacturing.
The euro edged down as Greece's bailout reform talks plod on without agreement in sight despite this week's deadline to repay some debts - fuelling fears of a default that could see it leave the eurozone.
Tokyo recovered from initial losses to end marginally higher, adding 6.72 points, at 20,569.87. The 12 days of gains marked the best rally since 1988 at the height of Japan's stock market bubble.
Shanghai, which plunged almost seven per cent over Thursday and Friday, jumped 4.71 per cent, or 216.99 points, to end at 4,828.74. Hong Kong added 0.63 per cent, or 172.97 points, to 27,597.16.
But Sydney dropped 0.72 per cent, or 41.8 points, to close at 5,735.4 and Seoul fell 0.59 per cent, or 12.43 points, to 2,102.37.
Singapore, Wellington and Bangkok were closed for public holidays.
In Tokyo the Nikkei reversed initial losses caused by profit-taking as investors bet on the Bank of Japan announcing more monetary easing, while the yen sits around 12-year lows against the dollar.
On Monday the dollar was at 124.20 yen in Tokyo against 124.12 yen late Friday in New York. The greenback briefly touched 124.46 last Thursday, the highest level since December 2002.
"Today's (stocks) gain suggests that the market is seeing Japan's corporate performance as favourable," said Kenzaburo Suwa, strategist at Okasan Securities in Tokyo.
Japanese dealers brushed off Wall Street losses Friday after data showed the world's biggest economy shrank 0.7 per cent in the first three months of the year as the country was hit by severely cold weather.
The Dow lost 0.64 per cent, the S&P 500 shed 0.63 per cent and the Nasdaq dropped 0.55 per cent.
In China the official Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) of manufacturing activity came in at 50.2 for May, the strongest since November and the third consecutive month of expansion.
The reading, which is above the 50 point mark that separates growth from contraction, also showed demand increasing.
Chinese investors returned to buying Monday after the Shanghai index plunged almost seven per cent over Thursday and Friday in response to a tightening of rules for margin trading.
The market has surged about 120 per cent over the past year on hopes Beijing will unveil a series of easing measures to boost the economy.
"The stock market has consolidated and is likely to grow at a slower pace rather than just straight up," said Wang Zheng, the Shanghai-based chief investment officer at Jingxi Investment Management Co.
"The stabilisation of the economy indicated by the PMI data has also helped sentiment." The euro slipped to US$1.0906 and 135.42 yen from US$1.0991 and 136.42 yen.
Dealers are keeping tabs on the long-running talks between Greece and its creditors as they struggle to find an agreement on overhauling its bailout terms.
However, there are worries Athens will not achieve a deal that will unlock the billions of euros it needs for a debt repayment on June 5.
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Sunday attacked creditors for insisting on what he described as absurd reforms that had only delayed progress in negotiations for a deal.
On oil markets US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for July fell 67 cents to US$59.63 a barrel, while Brent shed 71 cents to US$64.85.
Gold fetched US$1,190.49 compared with US$1,190.33 late Friday.
In other markets:
- Taipei declined 0.78 percent, or 75.38 points, to 9,625.69.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co closed 0.68 per cent lower at NT$145.0 while Hon Hai Precision Industry shed 1.82 per cent to NT$97.3.
- Manila ended 1.19 per cent, or 89.91 points, higher at 7,670.37.