Asia stocks mostly rise as Irma and North Korea worries fade

Asian shares were mostly higher Tuesday, encouraged by optimism on Wall Street as Hurricane Irma weakened and made way for recovery efforts and a North Korean holiday passed without new missile launches.

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KEEPING SCORE: Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 gained 1.0 percent to 19,741.42, as a weaker yen also helped boosted sentiments. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 was up nearly 0.9 percent at 5,763.20 in early trading, while South Korea's Kospi inched up but was little changed at 2,359.45. Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.2 percent to 27,893.97, while the Shanghai Composite gained 0.1 percent to 3,379.91.

IRMA FEARS: Irma wreaked havoc along the entire Florida peninsula and was still dropping rain and causing power outages and some damage around the Southeast. But the storm had weakened considerably from its peak, relieving investors' worries. Insurers and travel companies did well in U.S. markets Monday, while home improvement stocks declined on expectations of less business from storm repairs.

NORTH KOREA: Tensions between the U.S. and North Korea have been on investors' minds recently, but North Koreans observed the 69th anniversary of the country's founding, but did not test another intercontinental ballistic missile, as South Korea's government had warned it might.

THE QUOTE: "This morning's announcement that the UN has agreed on more economic sanctions against North Korea has not phased markets," said Ric Spooner, chief market analyst for CMC Markets in Sydney.

WALL STREET: The Standard & Poor's 500 index made its biggest gain since late April as it rose 26.68 points, or 1.1 percent, to finish at a record high of 2,488.11. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 259.58 points, or 1.2 percent, to 22,057.37. That wiped out a month of losses linked to international tensions as well as worries about the lingering effects of recent hurricanes.

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ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude slipped 3 cents to $48.04 a barrel. It added 59 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $48.07 a barrel in New York Monday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, lost 1 cent to $53.83 a barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 109.37 yen from 108.48 yen late Monday. The euro slid to $1.1958 from $1.2016.


AP Business Writer Yuri Kageyama can be reached at

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