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Asian Markets End Mixed, Weak Yen Lifts Tokyo

CNBC.com
Monday, 8 Jun 2009 | 5:54 AM ET

Asian markets were mostly higher Monday after smaller than expected U.S. job losses suggested a recovery is under way, while government bonds slid as investors speculated central banks may have to raise interest rates sooner than previously thought.

After its biggest weekly rise in two months, the U.S. dollar slipped as dealers bought back other currencies at cheaper levels. But higher U.S. Treasury yields and doubts about the speed at which central banks will diversify their dollar reserves have improved the dollar's outlook.

Australian markets are closed on Monday for the Queen's Birthday holiday. Markets will reopen Tuesday.

The dollar index, a gauge of the greenback's value against a basket of six currencies, shed modest early gains and eased 0.06 percent to 80.618 by late morning. The dollar index rose 1.6 percent on Friday, its best performance since Dec. 19, according to Reuters data. The euro crept back up to $1.40 after falling to a low around $1.3930 on Friday, after a U.S. nonfarm payrolls report for May showed the fewest job losses since September. Crude oil prices were trading below $68 a barrel on profit-taking from a seven-month high struck last week.

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Japan's Nikkei 225 Average rose 1 percent to hit its highest point in eight months, after better than expected U.S. jobs figures for May raised hopes for an economic recovery and also buoyed by a weaker yen which cheered exporters such as Canon and Toyota Motor.

South Korea's KOSPI closed 0.1 percent lower, weighed down by news North Korea had sentenced two U.S. journalists to 12 years hard labour, but Korea Exchange Bank jumped on
the back of brewing acquisition hopes.

Hong Kong shares succumbed to profit taking, down 2.3 percent as investors digested mixed signals from the U.S. economy and held their breath for a raft of economic data from China and the United States this week. But China-listed shares edged up with financials helped by news of a possible tie-up between two heavyweightsand property counters buoyed by strong sales in May.

Singapore's Straits Times Index extended losses, down 2.6 percent after brief gains in early
trade as players reluctant to stay invested amid lack of catalysts. Property stocks were the main decliners after recent strong gains. CapitaLand fell 3.6 percent.

China's Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.5 percent as news of a possible tie-up between Ping An Insurance and Shenzhen Development Bank boosted financial shares. China Merchants Bank, China Construction Bank and Hua Xia Bank all gained.