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Major Asian markets mostly up after US, Europe gains

Major Asian markets mostly advanced Monday following rallies on Wall Street and in Europe, while the dollar continued to struggle after the Federal Reserve dampened expectations for an early interest rate rise.

[HONG KONG] Major Asian markets mostly advanced Monday following rallies on Wall Street and in Europe, while the dollar continued to struggle after the Federal Reserve dampened expectations for an early interest rate rise.

Tokyo ended 0.99 per cent higher, adding 194.14 points, to 19,754.36 while Shanghai surged 1.95 per cent, or 70.41 points, to 3,687.73 and Hong Kong added 0.49 per cent, or 119.27 points, to 24,494.51.

Seoul was flat, dipping 0.65 points to 2,036.59 and Sydney eased 0.32 per cent, or 19.4 points, to 5,956.1.

With few catalysts to drive business early in the week, investors took their lead from their US counterparts who have been cheered by the Fed's dovish comments on rates.

While the central bank on Wednesday opened the door for a rise this year, it said there were still weaknesses in the US economy, including low inflation and soft manufacturing. The news sent global shares soaring and the dollar tumbling.

In New York on Friday the Dow jumped 0.94 per cent, the S&P 500 climbed 0.90 per cent and the Nasdaq added 0.68 per cent to end above 5,000 points for the first time since March 2000 and for only the fourth time ever.

European markets also surged, helped by Greece's promise to submit fresh bailout reform plans. London's FTSE closed above 7,000 points for the first time in its history, while the Paris CAC 40 is at levels not seen since early 2008.

In currency trading on Monday the dollar bought 120.09 yen in afternoon trade, down from 120.11 yen in New York and well off the 120.71 yen in Tokyo earlier Friday.

The euro bought US$1.0770 compared with US$1.0821 but is well up from the levels below US$1.05 seen at the start of last week. The single currency was also at 129.41 yen against 129.98 yen.

"The overriding factor for the Fed is whether they can afford to overstimulate the economy or raise rates too soon," Tim Schroeders, a portfolio manager at Pengana Capital Ltd in Melbourne, told Bloomberg News.

"They can't be too aggressive in raising rates as the underlying US economy isn't as strong. Equities will continue to trend higher but as valuations become stretched, markets will be more vulnerable to a pullback." Oil prices drifted lower again owing to ongoing concerns about a global supply glut.

US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for May delivery was down 95 cents at US$45.62 and Brent tumbled 85 cents to US$54.47.

Gold fetched US$1,183.26 against US$1,172.01 late Friday.

In other markets: - Taipei was marginally higher, edging up 8.40 points to 9,758.09.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co closed 0.32 per cent lower to NT$153.5 while Hon Hai Precision Industry gained 0.54 per cent at NT$93.5.

- Wellington was also slightly higher, putting on 3.85 points to 5,875.23.

Telecom giant Spark rose 2.77 per cent to NZ$3.155 and Trade Me slipped 0.27 per cent to NZ$3.70.

- Manila closed 0.28 per cent, or 22.11 points, higher at 7,840.49.

SM Investments was down 0.22 per cent at 900 pesos, Philippine Long Distance Telephone rose 0.64 per cent to 2,828 pesos and Metrobank added 0.42 per cent to 95.55 pesos.

- Singapore closed down 0.07 per cent, or 2.31 points, to 3,410.13, with little market reaction to the death of founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew.

DBS Bank rose 0.75 per cent to S$20.21 while oil rig maker Keppel Corp gained 0.11 per cent to S$8.86.

- Mumbai fell 0.24 per cent, or 69.06 points, to 28,192.02 points.

Bharat Heavy Electricals fell 3.62 per cent to 236.85 rupees, while National Thermal Power Corporation rose 3.20 per cent to 150.15 rupees.

- Kuala Lumpur closed 7.80 points lower, or 0.43 per cent, at 1,795.85.

Public Bank dropped 0.97 per cent to RM18.42 and Tenaga Nasional lost 2.47 per cent to 14.24, while Sime Darby rose 0.32 per cent to RM9.29.

- Bangkok dropped 0.65 per cent, or 9.95 points, to 1,520.01.

Airports of Thailand added 2.02 per cent to 303.00 baht, while supermarket operator Big C Super center slid 2.20 per cent to 222.00 baht.

- Jakarta ended down 0.11 per cent, or 5.97 points, at 5,437.10.

Miner Aneka Tambang gained 1.69 per cent to 900 rupiah, while property developer Pakuwon Jati slipped 2.80 per cent to 520 rupiah.


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