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Asian Markets Edge Higher on Economic Optimism

CNBC.com
Tuesday, 5 May 2009 | 6:27 AM ET

Asian stocks were higher Tuesday with cyclical stocks and coal miners rising on signs of stability in the global economy, and greater China markets buoyed by cross-strait hopes. Trade though was quiet with markets shut in Japan, South Korea and Thailand.

Markets in Japan will reopen on Thursday. The Nikkei 225 Average closed at 8,977.37 on Friday. Seoul reopens Wednesday.

Wall Street rallied strongly, with financial stocks leading the way on comments from U.S. officials that there was no immediate need for further bank bailouts. U.S. data showed pending sales of existing homes unexpectedly rose, while there was also positive news on manufacturing activity in Europe, India and China. A top U.S. Federal Reserve official also said the recession was fading and growth would resume from later this year.

The U.S. dollar continued its slide as risk-taking returned to favor, with the euro pushing to a one-month high above the greenback. Crude oil prices traded at $54 a barrel.

Australian stocks closed 0.2 percent higher, buoyed by firm mining and energy stocks as
oil and metal prices rose, but banking shares were broadly lower after recent gains.

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Hong Kong shares gained 0.3 percent after a three-day rally but funds continued to wash into the market amid signs of stabilization in the global economy. Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing outperformed with a 2.8 percent jump on improving turnover on the exchange in recent weeks as foreign investors bet on a quick turnaround in China's economy. Trading fees make up nearly a fifth of the exchange operator's revenue.

Singapore's Straits Times Index was up 2.3 percent. Financials such as DBS Group, up 3.4 percent and United Overseas Bank,up 2.8 percent, led the rally

China's Shanghai Composite Index moved back into positive territory, up 0.3 percent in active turnover, with coal and financial shares easing after the previous day's rally but shares of Fujian-based firms surged on news of plans for a regional development zone.