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Seoul, Sydney Climb 3% as Asian Markets Surge

Asian markets surged Monday, helped by a smaller-than-expected loss at Citigroup that provided comfort about the financial sector's stability ahead of more results this week from banks and industrial companies. Both South Korea and Australia gained over 3 percent.

Japanese markets are closed for a holiday. They will reopen Tuesday.

Depending largely on how quarterly earnings look at companies like Bank of America, Caterpillar and Honda Motor, equity markets this week could extend their rally or just as easily fall on their face.

Crude oil prices rose towards $130 a barrel in the Asian session after its biggest one-week slide on record as inconclusive talks between Iran and world powersover Tehran's disputed nuclear program dimmed prospects of ending the row. Oil has tumbled in the past week or so by more than $17 from a record high above $147 a barrel.

Citigroup , the largest U.S. bank, posted a smaller-than-expected quarterly loss of $2.5 billion, despite $11.7 billion of write-downs and credit losses tied to
deteriorating capital markets and a slumping economy.

South Korea's KOSPI finished 3.5 percent higher led by tech issues such as LG Electronics, which ended firm on solid earnings, while financials such as Kookmin Bank, Hana Financial and Shinhan Financial jumped after recent losses and better-than-expected quarterly results from Citibank.

Australian shares jumped 3.5 percent, the biggest one-day gain in four months, with bank counters such as Macquarie Group leading the advance.

Hong Kong shares gained over 3 percent to their highest level in nearly a month, led by financial stocks. Europe's largest bank, HSBC Holdings, extended its two-day 7 percent rally to add 4.1 percent on reports that the lender had held talks with China's main sovereign investment fund over a potential investment. Also helped by retreating oil prices, Air China, the nation's biggest international airline, soared.

Singapore's Straits Times Index rose 2.5 percent, led by gains in financials such as DBS Group and the Singapore Exchange, and property firms including City Developments and CapitaLand.

China's Shanghai Composite Index added 3 percent, led by property and financial shares, as investors were encouraged by the 3 percent jump of the Hong Kong market and better-than-expected earnings from CITIC Securities. Property giant Vanke advanced 2.55 percent. Financials surged in what traders said was a response to rebounds of financial stocks overseas. Industrial & Commercial Bank of China gained over 2 percent