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Asian stocks set for best quarter in 3 years

[SYDNEY] Asian stocks rose, with the regional benchmark poised for the best quarter in three years as China moved to support economic growth, sending shares higher in the US and Europe and the yen tumbling against the dollar.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index added 0.6 per cent to 147.35 as of 9:01 am. in Tokyo, on course for a 6.9 per cent quarterly advance, the most since the first three months of 2012. China's central bank announced measures aimed at stemming a property slump after Governor Zhou Xiaochuan said at the weekend that policy makers can do more to support Asia's largest economy. The Shanghai Composite Index surged 17 per cent this year through Monday and Japan's Topix index added 11 per cent.

"Investors continue to work on the expectation that the People's Bank of China will deliver more policy reports in coming months and that the U.S. Fed will be cautious about its policy deliberations," said Matthew Sherwood, head of investment markets research in Sydney at Perpetual Ltd., which manages about $21 billion. "U.S. economic data overnight had no clear trend, but European economic sentiment continued a run of improving data."

The Topix gained 1.2 per cent today after the yen slid 0.8 per cent against the dollar on Monday. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 Index also climbed 1.2 per cent and New Zealand's NZX 50 Index added 0.2 per cent. South Korea's Kospi index rose 0.7 per cent.

Futures on the FTSE China A50 Index climbed 1.5 per cent in the most recent session. Mainland stock gains this year have been fueled by expectations of central-bank policy easing, optimism the government won't let economic growth fall below this year's 7 per cent target and as authorities reduced curbs on the property market.

Sales of previously owned US homes climbed 3.1 per cent in February for a second monthly advance, data from the National Association of Realtors showed. Economists had forecast a 0.3 per cent gain.


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