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Asia: Stocks rise after Wall Street records


[HONG KONG] Asian markets rose on Monday following another record-breaking close on Wall Street as a weak batch of US data narrowed the chances of an early interest rate hike.

The euro held up against the dollar and yen as investors nervously watch developments in Europe as Greece tries to hammer out a bailout reform deal with its creditors that will unlock much-needed cash to service its debts.

Hong Kong rallied 1.14 per cent, Shanghai added 1.61 per cent, Sydney rose 0.67 per cent, Seoul gained 0.19 per cent and Tokyo was flat.

With few catalysts at the start of the week, regional traders took their lead from New York where the S$P 500 and Nasdaq pushed to new highs Friday.

The Nasdaq added 0.71 per cent after breaking a 15-year-old record on Thursday, while the S&P 500 rose 0.23 per cent to a new record. The Dow gained 0.12 per cent.

The gains came after official figures showed orders for US durable goods surged four percent in March, driven by a jump in orders for civilian and military aircraft as well as autos.

But with those elements stripped out, the report showed an 0.2 per cent decline in orders, underscoring the weakness of US non-transport industries in part due to the strong dollar.

"Friday's US durable goods orders report was sufficiently weak to power US stock indices to new record highs, such was the 'zero for longer' interpretation of the data," Ray Attrill, global co-head of foreign-exchange strategy at National Australia Bank in Sydney, wrote in a note Monday, according to Bloomberg News.

The news put downward pressure on the dollar, which fell Friday to 118.99 yen in New York from 119.56 yen in Tokyo earlier in the day. On Monday the greenback bought 118.97 yen.

The euro fetched US$1.0866 and 129.29 yen against US$1.0873 and 129.38 yen in US trade.

The single currency has managed to maintain its relative strength despite uncertainty about Greece's future in the eurozone as it struggles to find cash to pay its bills.

Greece has been trying to negotiate a deal that would unlock 7.2 billion euros in remaining bailout funds that needed to avoid default and a possible exit from the euro.

Athens said its leaders will resume talks with its creditors Monday after Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras spoke by phone to German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

In a bid to speed up the stalled negotiations, Tsipras met Jeroen Dijsselbloem, head of the Eurogroup of finance ministers.

The group, which is in charge of the negotiations on Greece's debt, will hold a teleconference with Athens Monday, and a second meeting in person on Wednesday in the Belgian capital.

The developments come after EU ministers heaped pressure on Greece Friday to speed up negotiations, after a meting in Riga last week ended without a breakthrough.

Oil prices were marginally higher. US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for June delivery gained one cent to US$57.16 while Brent crude for June rose three cents to US$65.31.

Gold fetched US$1,181.97 against US$1,191.95 late Friday.

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