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Asia markets close higher as investors digest China inflation data

Key Points
  • Asian shares rose
  • China September CPI was in line with expectations, while PPI beat forecasts
  • Oil prices rose on news of Iraqi forces capturing parts of Kirkuk
  • U.S. consumer prices for September were softer than expected

Most major Asian indexes closed higher on Monday, following the stronger lead from Wall Street, as investors digested the release of China inflation data.

Japan's Nikkei 225 climbed for a tenth straight day, extending gains once more to touch a fresh 21-year high. The index was up 0.47 percent, or 100.38 points, to close at 21,255.56. Ahead, politics will be in focus for Japanese markets as the country gears up for lower house election at the end of the week.

Across the Korean Strait, the Kospi closed up 0.26 percent at 2,480.05 as steelmakers and cosmetics retailers notched gains: Posco jumped 5.85 percent, Hyundai Steel closed up 2.39 percent and Amorepacific soared 5.17 percent. Tech stocks were mixed, with SK Hynix falling 2.21 percent, but LG Electronics climbing 0.9 percent.

Down Under, the S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.56 percent to finish the session at 5,846.8, with the materials sub-index rising 1.55 percent and leading gains on the broader index. Major miners surged: Rio Tinto closed up 3.43 percent, Fortescue Metals climbed 1.02 percent and BHP jumped 2.24 percent.

Elsewhere, China is likely to be in the spotlight this week as the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party China kicks off on on Oct. 18.

Mainland markets were mixed: The reversed gains to edge down 0.35 percent to close at 3,378.8045 and the Shenzhen Composite fell 1.515 percent to end at 2,005.9458. Hong Kong's , meanwhile, soared 0.66 percent by 3:10 p.m. HK/SIN.

Investors in the region also digested inflation data out of the world's second-largest economy: China's consumer price index rose 1.6 percent in September from a year ago, meeting expectations. The producer price index rose 6.9 percent in the same period — well above the 6.3 percent forecast in a Reuters poll.

Asia-Pacific Market Indexes Chart

U.S. September consumer prices released Friday were softer than expected. Still, although the headline 0.5 percent increase was below the 0.6 percent predicted in a Reuters poll, the rise in prices was the largest monthly increase in eight months.

Despite the weaker-than-expected number, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen appeared positive on the inflation outlook in the months ahead in a Sunday speech, Reuters said. Yellen indicated that inflation was likely to improve despite the unexpectedly low levels seen this year.

"[W]hile the Fed may well get one more hike in December, if goods inflation fails to show up next year, there might not be too many more in a hurry," Joanne Masters, senior economist at ANZ, said in a note.

The dollar recouped losses after initially sliding following the lackluster data release. The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six currencies, stood at 93.215 by 2:39 p.m. HK/SIN, above a low of 92.749 seen on Friday. Against the Japanese currency, the dollar wast slightly lower at 111.75 yen.

Meanwhile, stocks on Wall Street touched record levels on Friday as earnings season rolled on. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 0.13 percent, or 30.71 points, to close at 22,871.72.

Elsewhere, the euro was softer after Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont issued a statement that didn't provide a clear answer over the region's independence following last week's referendum. Political developments in Austria were also in the spotlight after Sebastian Kurz declared his People's Party had won the Austrian national election. The common currency traded at $1.1792 at 2:45 p.m. HK/SIN after falling as low as $1.1788 earlier in the session.

In individual stocks, SoftBank Group was up 1.44 percent. The spike in share price came after news that T-Mobile and SoftBank-controlled Sprint intended to announce a merger, according to Reuters. That followed a report from Nikkei Asian Review during the weekend that SoftBank had "reached a broad agreement" about the deal.

Also in Japan, shares of Kobe Steel closed 2.73 percent higher after trading near their lowest level in five years earlier in the session. The steelmaker is currently embroiled in a data falsification scandal. On Friday, the company's chief executive acknowledged that around 500 firms had received affected products, Reuters reported.

Over in South Korea, Samsung Electronics were flat after the company announced Friday that it was expecting record profit for the third quarter. Other tech stocks in the market were mixed: LG Electronics rose 0.9 percent, LG Display added 2.24 percent and Samsung SDI fell 6.71 percent.

Oil built on Friday's gains following news that Iraqi forces had captured parts of Kirkuk, a Kurdish-controlled oil-rich province, Reuters said, citing local media. The Iran nuclear deal was also in focus after President Donald Trump's decision not to certify that Tehran was in compliance with obligations that were part of the agreement.

Global benchmark Brent crude spiked 1.45 percent to trade at $58.00 a barrel and U.S. West Texas Intermediate advanced 1.32 percent to $52.13.

— CNBC's Huileng Tan contributed to this report.