Asian stocks gain on strong US retail sales report

HONG KONG -- Asian stock markets advanced Tuesday, led higher by exporters after a report on U.S. retail sales showed consumers in the world's biggest economy stepped up spending.

Japan's Nikkei 225 index rose 0.9 percent to 8,658.82 and South Korea's Kospi climbed 0.4 percent to 1,932.78. Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.3 percent to 21,206.42. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.3 percent to 4,495.60. Benchmarks in Taiwan, Singapore, and New Zealand also rose.

Investors were encouraged by a U.S. Commerce Department report that showed retail sales rose 1.1 percent in September. August's number was also revised slightly higher to 1.2 percent. The two figures were the biggest since October 2010 and helped pushed up shares of some exporters. Electronics company Toshiba Corp. rose 1.9 percent in Tokyo while Samsung Electronics Co. rose 1.7 percent in Seoul.

Japan's Softbank Corp. rose more than 10 percent a day after the company, which has investments in Internet and telecom businesses, announced it's buying a controlling stake in Sprint Nextel Corp., the No. 3 U.S. cellphone company, for $20.1 billion.

Mainland China's Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.5 percent to 2,108.94 after briefly slipping into the red. Strategists at Credit Agricole CIB said in a research note that "market movements" will be capped as investors hesitate ahead of a slate of Chinese economic data expected out later this week, including GDP growth, retail sales and fixed asset investment.

On Wall Street, the Dow rose 0.7 percent to close at 13,424.23, its biggest gain since September 13. The Standard & Poor's 500 index ended 0.8 percent higher at 1,440.13 and the Nasdaq composite index rose 0.7 percent to 3,064.18.

In currencies, the euro strengthened to $1.2960 from $1.2941 in late trading Monday. The dollar rose to 78.82 Japanese yen from 78.70 yen.

Oil prices fell. Benchmark crude for November delivery was down 17 cents to $91.68 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract finished down 1 cent at $91.85 on Monday.