Asian shares up on economic outlook, dollar hovers
Singapore: Asian stocks rose on Monday on increasing optimism about the global economy, with Tokyo shares hitting their highest in four months, while the U.S. dollar gained against the yen and held firm against the euro.
Signs of a recovery in the US also lifted oil prices to a four-week high.
The MSCI index of Asia Pacific stocks outside Japan rose almost 0.7 percent in thin trade as markets in Australia and New Zealand remained shut for holidays.
The Thomson Reuters index of Asia ex-Japan equities was up 0.6 percent.
Chinese stocks led the regional gains, with the Shanghai Composite Index jumping 1.7 percent, lifted by Premier Wen Jiabao`s comments on Sunday that Beijing was committed to seeing through its stimulus package to help cement the economic recovery.
The Shanghai index has gained 5 percent after falling to a seven-week low on Tuesday, as investors were encouraged by a series of data suggesting the world`s third largest economy is on a brisk reovery path.
Japan`s Nikkei average rose 1 percent to its highest in four months on data showing factory output rising for the ninth straight month in November and on stable currency moves.
"The industrial output data was stronger than what the market had expected and that`s reinforcing the positive sentiment. The stable dollar/yen moves are also making it easier to pick up exporter shares," said Tsuyoshi Segawa, equity strategist at Mizuho Securities.
Japan`s industrial output rose a more-than-expected 2.6 percent in November, the strongest gain in six months as rising exports to Asia bode well for a recovering economy.
That followed upbeat U.S. data on Thursdsay which showed a drop in initial jobless claims and growth in durable goods orders.
In China, industrial profits nationwide rose 7.8 percent in the first 11 months from a year earlier, compared with a fall of 10.6 percent in the first eight months of the year.
U.S. and European markets were shut on Friday for Christmas after closing at their highest in over a year on Thursday.
The dollar was at 91.66 yen. It ended at around 91.50 yen on Thursday, below a two-month high of 91.88 yen set last week as investors covered short dollar positions before the year-end.
The euro rose 0.2 percent to $1.4355, after climbing to a session peak of $1.4418, according to Reuters data.
The euro is down 4.3 percent against the dollar so far this month and on course for its biggest monthly fall since January, dented by concerns about sovereign ratings after a third ratings agency downgraded Greece`s debt.
U.S. crude oil for February delivery gained 55 cents, or 0.6 percent, to $78.60 a barrel, highest since Dec. 1 supported also by large declines in U.S. crude inventories.
Gold prices gained up 0.9 percent to $1,113.45 in thin trade as many investors stayed to sidelines after U.S. and European markets were closed for Christmas.
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