Asia stocks mostly rise on global growth optimism

Associated Press

TOKYO (AP) — Renewed optimism about the global economy helped push most Asian stock markets higher Tuesday.

Since late last week, investors have digested a raft of positive news from major economies: additional monetary stimulus in Europe, a solid U.S. jobs report for May, stronger first quarter growth in Japan and an improvement in China's exports.

Indications that the U.S. economy is on a roll this quarter after a bumpy start to the year have helped push American stock benchmarks higher for the past month.

Although most Asian markets got a perk from those developments, the region's main bourse largely marked time, waiting for a new cue.

The Nikkei 225, the benchmark for the Tokyo Stock Exchange, dropped 0.9 percent to 14,994.80, slipping beneath the key 15,000 mark.

Hiroki Ihara, head of research at Phillip Securities in Tokyo, said share prices had entered a temporary adjustment phase but had room to rise, especially if foreign players join in greater numbers.

"Today the yen rose slightly and so prices degenerated during the day," he said. "But compared to global stocks, there is still a sense that Japanese shares are lagging behind." The Nikkei is down 11 percent over the past 12 months compared with gains for most other Asian benchmarks.

He foresees the index testing the 15,000 level again in coming sessions. A weak yen is a plus for Japan Inc. because it boosts the earnings of the nation's giant exporters.

The dollar fell to 102.32 yen from 102.51 yen late Monday. The euro was flat at $1.3596 from $1.3595.

Among other Asian stock markets, Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.9 percent to 23,321.80 and South Korea's Kospi added 1.1 percent to 2,011.80.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.1 percent to 5,469.70. Markets in Southeast Asia were mixed.

In Europe, Britain's FTSE 100 rose 0.2 percent to close at 6,875 on Monday while Germany's DAX advanced 0.2 percent to 10,008.63, a record closing high. The CAC-40 in France added 0.2 percent to 4,589.12.

In the U.S., the Standard & Poor's 500 closed at another all-time high, rising 1.83 points, or less than 0.1 percent, to 1,951.27.

The S&P 500 has been on a steady climb for three weeks, lifting the benchmark for most investment funds by 4 percent the last month.

The Dow Jones industrial average edged up 0.1 percent to 16,943.10 and the Nasdaq composite index gained 0.3 percent to 4,336.24.

In energy trading, benchmark U.S. crude for July delivery was up 26 cents to $104.67 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract gained $1.75 to close at $104.41 on Monday.

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Follow Yuri Kageyama on Twitter at twitter.com/yurikageyama

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