Asian stocks climb on better-than-expected rise in US consumer confidence

The Associated Press ~ staff The News
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BANGKOK, Thailand — Asian stocks rose for a third straight session Monday as improved U.S. consumer confidence, a weaker Japanese yen and easing worries over Europe’s debt crisis buoyed investor sentiment.

Oil rose above US$74 a barrel, reflecting the upbeat market mood. The dollar strengthened against the yen, while the euro was up against the dollar.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 stock average gained 154.06 points, or 1.6 per cent, to 9,859.56. Investors also chased gains in Japanese exporters on an easing yen as a weaker currency lifts the value of their repatriated profits and can make their goods more price competitive .

South Korea’s Kospi index added 0.7 per cent to 1,688.14. Australia’s stock market was closed Monday for a public holiday.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng edged up 0.9 per cent to 20,047.14. Shanghai’s stock market was also closed Monday, while shares in Taiwan rose 1.1 per cent in early trading.

Investors took heart from a private report Friday that showed U.S. consumer confidence in June climbed to its strongest level since January 2008. That boosted confidence — as did robust Chinese exports and actions by Spain to cope with a heavy deficit, said Francis Lun, general manager at Fulbright Securities.

The Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment index showed Friday that U.S. consumer confidence grew to 75.5 — coming in well ahead of forecasts.

“People are more confident about the market,” Lun said. “Europe is getting its house in order. We haven’t seen a further deterioration there.”

Recent gyrations in world markets have been largely due to the debt crisis in Europe, said Tey Tze Ming, market strategist for Saxo Capital Markets in Singapore.

“I think it will blow past. At the end of they day, U.S. growth is back on track. Asia is growing well; most Southeast Asian countries beat their growth estimates,” he said.

In New York on Friday, the Dow Jones industrial average rose 38.54 points, or 0.4 per cent, to 10,211.07.

In currencies, the dollar rose to 91.87 yen in Tokyo on Monday from 91.77 yen in New York late Friday. The euro climbed to $1.2170 from $1.2125.

Benchmark crude for July delivery was up 78 cents to $74.56 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract dropped $1.70 to close at $73.78 on Friday.

Organizations: Fulbright Securities, Reuters, University of Michigan Saxo Capital Markets Dow Jones industrial average New York Mercantile Exchange

Geographic location: U.S., Europe, BANGKOK Thailand Japan South Korea Australia Hong Kong Shanghai Taiwan New York Spain Singapore Asia Tokyo

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