Japan leads Asian stock markets higher after US rebound, China growth figures eyed

Energy Associated Press

Asian stock markets rose Monday, led by a 3 percent surge in Japan, as nerves about the outlook for the world economy steadied after big gains on Wall Street.

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KEEPING SCORE: Japan's Nikkei 225 soared 3.3 percent to 15,018.55, helped in part by exporter stocks as the dollar resumed its rise against the yen. South Korea's Kospi was up 1.5 percent at 1,928.95 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 0.5 percent to 23,144.03. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.9 percent to 5,318.10 and China's Shanghai Composite rose 0.4 percent to 2,349.88.

THE QUOTE: "US stocks saw a meaningful rally on Friday. After many failed attempts to pick the bottom, buyers may have finally got it right with the Dow's bounce," said CMC market analyst Desmond Chua. "The recent sell-off in U.S. equity markets hasn't dented consumer confidence," he said. "Sentiment means little, however, if consumer spending doesn't follow."

CHINA ECONOMY: China, the world's No. 2 economy, is expected to release third quarter growth figures Tuesday that might be the weakest in five years. Some analysts predict the economy expanded 7.2 percent from a year earlier, slowing from 7.5 percent in the second quarter. The report will update views on prospects for the global economy at a time when Europe is flirting with recession again and doubts about the U.S. recovery remain in the background.

FUEL RELIEF: The sharp drop last week in oil prices is relieving pressure on some Asian economies that rely on imported fuel by making it easier to withdraw budget draining subsidies. India lifted government controls on diesel prices on the weekend; almost half the country's $23 billion spent on fuel subsidies last year went for diesel. Indonesia's new president, who is inaugurated Monday, is likely to face less of a backlash if he pushes ahead with fuel subsidy cuts while the cost of imported oil is lower.

WALL STREET: Investors rallied behind a group of corporate earnings results on Friday. General Electric rose 2.4 percent after its third-quarter earnings were better than expected, helped by improved performances at its aviation and oil and gas businesses. The Dow advanced 263.17 points, or 1.6 percent, to 16,380.41, its second-best day of the year. The Standard & Poor's 500 rose 24 points, or 1.3 percent, to 1,886.76 and the Nasdaq composite rose 41.05 points, or 1 percent, to 4,258.44.

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ENERGY: Oil prices steadied after last week's dramatic slide. Benchmark U.S. crude was up 43 cents at $83.18 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 5 cents to close at $82.75 a barrel on Friday. Brent crude was up 3 cents at $86.19 a barrel.

CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 107.34 yen from 106.92 yen on Friday. The euro was little changed at $1.2759 from $1.2760.