Asian shares muted as investors await raft of economic data

By KELVIN CHANMarketsAssociated Press

Stock markets in Asia were subdued in holiday-thinned trading Monday as investors hunkered down ahead of a raft of economic data later this week that will provide fresh insight into the world economy.

KEEPING SCORE: Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 index rose 0.2 percent to 19,726.55 and South Korea's Kospi added 0.5 percent to 2,367.89. Hong Kong's Hang Seng dipped 0.2 percent to 25,599.94 and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 lost 0.3 percent to 5,737.40. Markets in mainland China as well as the U.S. and Britain are closed for holidays.

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GLOBAL OUTLOOK: A full slate of economic reports this week will give investors plenty to digest, beginning with Eurozone business and consumer confidence readings on Tuesday. China's latest official factory and service industry purchasing managers' indexes, out Wednesday, will be among the most watched, with analysts watching to see if the gauge indicates that manufacturing growth momentum slows further. The ISM index for U.S. manufacturing is due a day later. U.S. private and official payroll numbers are also scheduled for release. They'll give fresh clues on employment and hiring the world's No. 1 economy and could bolster Fed policymakers' reasoning as they prepare to gradually raise interest rates again.

MARKET TALK: "The forecast today is subdued trading. Muted market action on Friday night, holidays in the U.K. and U.S. tonight and a data deluge starting tomorrow all militate against major market moves," said Michael McCarthy, chief strategist at CMC Markets. "Investors and trader may hold out for important reads on the world's largest economies this week."

WALL STREET: Major U.S. benchmarks eked out tiny gains on Friday, adding a seventh day to their winning streak. The S&P 500 index crept up 0.75 points to 2,415.82. The Dow Jones industrial average dipped 2.67 points to 21,080.28. The Nasdaq composite rose 0.1 percent to 6,210.19.

ENERGY: Oil futures were fairly steady after their bounce at the end of last week. Benchmark U.S. crude dipped 1 cent to $49.79 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 90 cents, or 1.8 percent, to $49.80 a barrel on Friday. Brent crude, the international standard, slipped 3 cents to $52.12 a barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar edged higher to 111.38 yen from 111.32 yen. The euro fell to $1.1168 from $1.1185.