Asian markets mostly up ahead of key data

Asian markets mostly rose on Tuesday as traders awaited key economic data out of the United States and China later in the week and the start of the corporate earnings season.

Tokyo climbed 0.39 percent, or 42.41 points, to 10,866.72 and Sydney jumped 1.11 percent as dealers returned from a long weekend, the index adding 53.8 points to end at 4,889.0.

Seoul added 0.84 percent, or 16.25 points, to 1,955.96, while Hong Kong ended flat, edging down 16.71 points to 23,655.17.

Shanghai rose 0.53 percent, or 12.47 points, to 2,358.98, extending strong gains from the previous session as confidence in the mainland economy grows stronger.

However, there was a certain amount of caution as the corporate earning season begins this week in Japan.

Eyes are on the United States as the Federal Reserve begins a two-day policy meeting on Tuesday, followed by the release on Friday of closely watched jobs data, with investors hoping for new clues on the state of the economy.

Friday will also see the release of Chinese manufacturing data, which is likely to add to recent evidence that the world's number two economy has shaken off a malaise that weighed on growth for most of last year.

Japanese shares climbed while the yen remained under pressure as the euro and dollar continue to pick up against the unit.

In afternoon Tokyo trade, the dollar bought 90.62 yen against 90.82 yen in New York Monday afternoon, while the euro fetched 121.73 yen, compared with 122.20 yen. The single currency was also at $1.3431, from $1.3454.

Despite a better-than-expected rise in orders for durable goods -- a key pointer to consumer confidence -- the lead from Wall Street was anaemic as profit-takers moved in following a strong finish to last week.

The Dow eased 0.10 percent and the S&P 500 fell 0.18 percent after the two indexes on Friday hit levels not seen since late 2007.

However, the Nasdaq rose 0.15 percent, boosted by a slight rebound in Apple.

Mumbai slipped 0.56 percent, or 112.45 points, to 19,990.9 despite the Reserve Bank of India cutting interest rates for the first time in nine months and reducing the amount of cash banks must keep in reserve.

Investors had already factored in the widely expected 0.25 percentage point cut, and uncertainty about future rate reductions weighed on stocks, analysts said.

Oil was up in Asia, with New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in March gaining 33 cents to $96.77 a barrel in the afternoon and Brent North Sea crude for March up 12 cents to $113.60.

Gold was at $1,661.10 at 1110 GMT compared with $1,655.09 late Monday.

In other markets:

-- Taipei rose 1.13 percent, or 87.33 points, to 7,802.00.

TSMC rose 1.71 percent to Tw$101.0 while HTC was 1.43 percent higher at Tw$284.5.

-- Manila rose 0.68 percent, or 42.31 points, to a record high 6,234.73.

Ayala Corp. gained 0.91 percent to 555 pesos while Megaworld rose 3.12 percent to 3.30 pesos.

-- Wellington fell 0.10 percent, or 4.15 points, to 4,200.29.

Telecom was down 1.47 percent at NZ$2.35, Contact Energy was steady at NZ$5.15 and Fletcher Building rose 0.54 percent to NZ$9.26.

-- Singapore lost 0.43 percent, or 14.16 points, to 3,259.75.

Singapore Telecommunications gained 0.58 percent to Sg$3.47 while Singapore Airlines shed 0.45 percent to Sg$11.00.

-- Kuala Lumpur ended flat, edging up 0.21 points to 1,637.34.

CIMB Group Holdings added 0.4 percent to 7.24 ringgit, while Gamuda rose 3.3 percent to 3.76. Astro Malaysia Holdings fell 1.1 percent to 2.83 ringgit.

-- Jakarta rose 0.50 percent, or 22.09 points, to 4,439,03.

State-controlled miner Aneka Tambang rose 5.30 percent to 1,390 rupiah and retailer Ramayana Lestari Sentosa gained 2.63 percent to 1,170 rupiah, while palm oil firm Astra Agro Lestari slid 1.30 percent to 19,000 rupiah.

-- Bangkok gained 0.46 percent, or 6.72 points, to 1,478.77.

Coal producer Banpu slipped 0.26 percent to 389.00 baht while PTT added 1.21 percent to 335.00 baht.

--

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