Asian stocks rise in anticipation of G20 meeting

BEIJING - Asian stock markets were mostly higher Monday as investors looked to this week's meeting of finance ministers from major economies for reassurance about threats to global growth.

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KEEPING SCORE: The Shanghai Composite Index rose 2 per cent to 2,918.50 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 1.1 per cent to 19,500.23. Tokyo's Nikkei 225 advanced 1.2 per cent to 16,152.86 and Sydney's S&P/ASX 200 gained 1 per cent to 5,003.00. India's Sensex rose 0.3 per cent to 23,790.75 and Singapore also advanced. Seoul's Kospi shed 0.1 per cent to 1,914.22 and New Zealand, Taiwan and Jakarta retreated. On Friday on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average declined 0.1 per cent and the Standard & Poor's 500 index lost a fraction of a point. The Nasdaq composite index added 0.4 per cent.

FINANCE MEETING: Investors are hoping this week's meeting of finance ministers from the Group of 20 major rich and developing economies will spur moves to shore up global growth. Japan's centre bank governor has called for the officials meeting Friday and Saturday in Shanghai to commit to co-ordinated action. But private sector analysts say fiscal and monetary policy options are limited following repeated rounds of stimulus.

ANALYST'S TAKE: "The weekend meeting of G20 Finance Ministers will be the major focus this week with global growth woes likely to be the event headline," said Stephen Innes of OANDA in a report. "Don't expect any magic bullet solution to appear but a policy consensus among ministers might go a long way to shoring up investors' sentiment."

JAPANESE MANUFACTURING WEAKNESS: A measure of Japanese manufacturing showed activity fell to an eight-month low this month, due largely to weak export demand. The Nikkei Flash Japan Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index showed production grew at its slowest rate in 10 months and new export orders fell to a three-year low. The data suggest "business sentiment has suffered from the sharp falls in the equity market and the stronger yen," Marcel Thieliant of Capital Economics said in a report.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude gained 53 cents per barrel to $32.28 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract plunged $1.18 on Friday to close at $31.75. Brent crude, used to price international oils, rose 46 cents to $33.47 per barrel in London. It fell $1.27 on Friday to close at $33.01.

CURRENCY: The dollar advanced to 112.92 yen from Friday's 112.60 yen. The euro edged down to $1.1111 from $1.1133.



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