BANGKOK (AP) — Rising factory output in China and better-than-expected U.S. hiring helped lift Asian stock markets modestly on Monday.
Investors delved into riskier assets a day after China's National Bureau of Statistics reported that factory output increased 10.1 percent from a year earlier in November, a sign of recovery in the world's No. 2 economy. The inflation rate rose to 2 percent, slightly below the projected 2.1 percent.
"I think China's economy has turned the corner, so that's why the market is going up," said Francis Lun, managing director of Lyncean Holdings in Hong Kong.
The China data followed the release Friday of U.S. government figures showing that employers added 146,000 jobs in November, beating economists' estimates. The unemployment rate fell to 7.7 percent from 7.9 percent, although that was mainly because more people gave up looking for work.
Japan's Nikkei 225 index was little changed at 9,528.66/ South Korea's Kospi added 0.1 percent to 1,959.26. Hong Kong's Hang Seng advanced 0.4 percent to 22,285.170 and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.1 percent to 4,558.30.
Budget negotiations are continuing between the White House and the U.S. Congress in order to reach a deal before the economy hits a "fiscal cliff" — a series of sharp government spending cuts and the expiration of tax cuts that begin to kick in Jan. 1 and could cause a recession.
President Barack Obama and Republican House Speaker John Boehner met Sunday to discuss the budget. No details were released, but there was speculation that Republicans were getting close to granting a key concession. Obama has demanded higher taxes on the wealthiest Americans to help reduce the budget deficit. For their part, Republicans are demanding steeper cuts in costly welfare programs.
"Talks between the administration and senior Republicans will continue this week but it appears that some senior Republicans are willing to give up their objections to tax hikes on the very wealthy," said analysts at Credit Agricole CIB in Hong Kong.
Among individual stocks, Australia's Southern Cross Media Group dropped 5.4 percent. The group owns the Sydney radio station whose DJs, impersonating Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles, called the hospital where the Duchess of Cambridge was being treated for acute morning sickness and obtained confidential information. The nurse who took the call was found dead days later, prompting an investigation.
Hopes that China's economic slowdown has bottomed out helped lift a broad range of stocks. Hong Kong-listed GOME Electrical Appliances rose 2.5 percent. Evergrande Real Estate Group surged 4.2 percent. Aluminum Corp. of China added 2.4 percent.
In Wall Street trading Friday, a decline of more than 2 percent in Apple Inc. stock held back the Standard & Poor's 500 and the Nasdaq composite, both of which include Apple. Apple isn't included in the Dow Jones industrial average. The Dow rose 0.6 percent to 13,155.13. The S&P rose 0.3 percent to 1,418.07. The Nasdaq composite index fell 0.4 percent to 2,978.04.
Apple's stock has been falling for weeks as investors worry that the company can't maintain the sales momentum of its hugely popular iPhones and iPads. Those worries were felt Monday on Taiwan's TAIEX, where Foxconn Technology fell 1.8 percent. Foxconn employs 1.2 million people in China to assemble products for Apple Inc. and other global companies.
Benchmark oil for January delivery was up 26 cents to $86.19 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 33 cents to finish at $85.93 per barrel on the Nymex on Friday.
In currencies, the euro fell to $1.2892 from $1.2926 in New York on Friday. The dollar rose to 82.39 yen from 82.40 yen.
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