Asian Markets Rise on Upbeat US Jobs Data

Asian stocks were higher Monday, after upbeat U.S. jobs data buoyed Wall Street Friday, with stronger oil and metal prices lifting resource firms. Volumes were thin with both the Japanese and South Korean markets closed for national holidays.

Better-than-expected April U.S. jobs data offered fresh evidence the economic slowdown in the world's biggest economy was not as severe as some feared, supporting U.S. stocks and lifting oil prices as it soothed worries about weaker U.S. demand.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 Index finished 0.5 percent higher as stronger oil and metals prices lifted BHP Billiton and other resource firms, while Incitec Pivot rose on strong earnings and an upbeat outlook.

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Hong Kong stocks closed 0.2 percent lower. But shares in China's top e-commerce firm fell 5.9 percent after Microsoft withdrew its bidfor Alibaba's major investor, Yahoo. Yahoo has a 39 percent stake in Alibaba's parent, Alibaba Group. But mainland Chinese oil stocks were rising after China eased rules for funds to set up in Hong Kong.

Singapore's Straits Times Index rose 0.4 percent with blue chips and banks such as DBS Group on the advance. Hard disk components maker Unisteel jumped after sources close to the matter said private equity firms were bidding for the firm.

China's Shanghai Composite Index rose 1.8 percent in heavy trade in response to continued signs that the government intended to support the market. The official Shanghai Securities News quoted officials at the China Securities Regulatory Commission on Monday as saying their studies showed pressure on the stock market was not that strong from follow-on share issues and institutions selling shares freed up by the expiry of lock-up periods. Also, the Economic Observer newspaper reported at the weekend that CSRC chief Shang Fulin had urged institutional investors at a private meeting to help preserve market stability.

Japan's Nikkei 225 Average and South Korea'sKOSPI are closed for the Children's Day holiday. Seoul will reopen Tuesday and Tokyo markets get back to business Wednesday.