Asian stocks up on Chinese moves to boost economic growth as oil price rebounds

Energy Associated Press

Asian stocks were mostly higher Monday after a report China will change banking rules in an apparent effort to boost lending and economic growth as oil prices rebounded.

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KEEPING SCORE: Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 1.9 percent to 23,786.30 and the Shanghai Composite Index added 0.9 percent to 3,185.95. Sydney, Singapore and Manila also rose. South Korea's Kospi was off 0.6 percent at 1,936.19. On Friday on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average added 0.1 percent, the Standard & Poor's 500 rose 0.3 percent and the Nasdaq composite was up 0.7 percent.

CHINESE BANKING: The official Xinhua News Agency reported Sunday that regulators will change accounting rules for bank deposits to free up more money for lending. That could help to boost economic growth that slumped to a 5-year low in the latest quarter. The report came after government data on Saturday showed profits for China's biggest industrial companies fell 4.2 percent in November from a year earlier, accelerating from the previous month's 2.1 percent decline. Stocks for China's state-owned banks rose on expectations of higher interest income from bigger lending.

ANALYST'S TAKE: "Asian equities are off to a great start to the week with investors growing increasingly optimistic about China deploying stimulus. Chinese equities are leading the way with solid gains for the Hang Seng and Shanghai Composite," said strategist Stan Shamu at IG Markets in a report.

RUBLE TROUBLES: Russia's currency fell 4 percent on Friday, breaking a five-day rally. Russian monetary officials have made stabilizing the currency a priority amid slumping oil revenues and unease about the country's economic outlook. Mizuho Bank, in a report, warned this "may not be the end of the troubles" for the Russian economy.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude rose 39 cents to $55.12 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. On Friday, the contract plunged $1.11 to settle at $54.73. Brent crude, used to price international oils, added 35 cents to $59.80.

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CURRENCY: The dollar rose to 120.49 yen from Friday's 120.35 yen. The euro edged down to $1.21 from Friday's $1.22.