Asian markets follow Wall Street up amid hopes for central bank support

Energy Associated Press

Asian stock markets rose Monday following Wall Street's gains amid expectations global central banks will hold off raising interest rates.

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KEEPING SCORE: The Shanghai Composite Index rose 1.2 percent to 3,659.11 points and Tokyo's Nikkei 225 gained 1.1 percent to 19,769.71. Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 0.4 percent to 24,478.65 and Seoul's Kospi was up 0.1 percent to 2,040.21. Singapore, Jakarta and New Zealand also gained. Sydney declined. On Friday, the Dow Jones industrial average rose 0.9 percent, to 18,127.65 points and the Standard & Poor's 500 added 0.9 percent. The Nasdaq composite added 0.7 percent, to 5,026.42, coming within 22 points of its record high of 5,048 set in March 2000.

U.S. STOCK SURGE: U.S. stocks turned in a strong week, boosted by a rebound in oil prices and earnings from Olive Garden owner Darden Restaurants and sportswear giant Nike. That came after the Federal Reserve implied at the end of its two-day meeting Wednesday that its policymakers were in no hurry to raise interest rates with the U.S. economy still growing slowly and inflation extremely low.

THE QUOTE: "On current statements, no central bank in the developed world is going to rise rates before June. In fact, the market believes no central bank will lift rates before September," said Evan Lucas of IG Markets in a report. The market believes major central banks "could lower rates in the next two months, further driving funds into corporate and sovereign yield plays."

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude shed 65 cents to $45.92 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract soared $1.04 on Friday to close at $46.57. Brent crude, used to price international oils, declined 59 cents to $54.73 per barrel in London. On Friday, the contract rose 89 cents to $55.32.

CURRENCY: The dollar gained to 120.06 yen from Friday's 120.03 yen. The euro held steady at $1.07.