Asian markets rise again on stimulus hopes

Asian markets were generally higher Tuesday, their third consecutive positive session, as traders looked for new stimulus measures from European and US central banks.

Tokyo stocks closed up 0.69, or 59.62 points, at 8,695.06, amid hopes for a firm recovery by Japanese high-tech manufacturers before their release of quarterly earnings.

Sydney gained 0.55 percent, or 23.5 points, to 4,269.2, Seoul finished 2.07 percent, or 38.20 points, higher at 1,881.99, and Hong Kong rose 1.08 percent, or 211.41 points, to end at 19,796.81.

But Shanghai was down 0.30 percent, or 6.28 points, to 2,103.63, on fears the slowing domestic economy may hurt corporate earnings.

Hopes for new rounds of monetary stimulus by the Federal Reserve have been heightened by weak US growth data, while European leaders and European Central Bank (ECB) chief Mario Draghi have pledged to do whatever is necessary to protect the euro.

The Federal Open Market Committee was to start a two-day meeting later Tuesday, after the US government reported last week that growth in the world's biggest economy slowed to 1.5 percent in the second quarter, from 2.0 percent in the first quarter.

On Thursday the Bank of England and the European Central Bank will unveil their latest monetary policy decisions, as both grapple with fallout from the ongoing eurozone sovereign debt crisis.

"It's all about the ECB," Chris Weston, institutional dealer at IG Markets in Australia, told Dow Jones Newswires.

He said Draghi's pledge to do whatever it takes to preserve the euro had "made people believe we will see a strong policy response".

US President Barack Obama said late Monday that the eurozone had to take "decisive steps" to deal with the crisis.

"I'm spending an enormous amount of time trying to work with them -- and (US Treasury Secretary) Tim Geithner is spending a lot of time working with them -- to recognise that the sooner they take some decisive action, the better off we're going to be," Obama told campaign donors.

In Japan, the unemployment rate edged down from 4.4 percent in May to 4.3 percent in June, while average household spending rose 1.6 percent from a year earlier, offering a glimmer of hope for the nation's fragile economy.

After the markets closed in Tokyo, Honda Motor announced profits had surged more than fourfold to $1.7 billion for the three months to June, compared to the same period last year, while Panasonic swung into the black posting a net profit of $164 million.

But Toshiba fell to a quarterly net loss of $155 million, owing to restructuring costs and the impact of a strong yen.

On Monday the Dow Jones Industrial Average finished at 13,073.01, drifting down 0.02 percent, while the S&P 500 slipped 0.05 percent to 1,385.30 and the Nasdaq was off 0.41 percent at 2,945.84.

On currency markets the euro was at $1.2281 in early European trade Tuesday from $1.2260 in New York, and bought 96.05 yen from 95.86. The dollar was at 78.19 yen from 78.19 yen.

On oil markets New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in September, was five cents lower at $89.73 a barrel and Brent North Sea crude for September delivery shed 11 cents to $106.09.

Gold was at $1,625.30 at 1040 GMT, from $1,618.30 on Monday.

In other markets:

-- Taipei was up 1.56 percent, or 111.61 points, at 7,270.49.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co added 2.53 percent at Tw$81.0, while leading smartphone maker HTC was 2.64 percent higher at Tw$292.0.

-- Manila closed 0.56 percent, or 29.76 points, higher at 5,307.66.

Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. was up 1.10 percent at 2,734 pesos, while Philex Mining Corp. shed 0.22 percent to 22.40 pesos.

-- Wellington was up 0.74 percent, or 26.12 points, to 3,545.01.

Telecom Corp was up 1.92 percent at NZ$2.66, with Fletcher Building lifting 1.5 percent to NZ$6.11 and Chorus down 0.32 percent at NZ$3.11.

-- Jakarta was up 1.05 percent, or 43.22 points, at 4,142.34.

Bank Mandiri rose 5.7 percent to 8,300 rupiah, car maker Astra increased 4.5 percent to 7,000 rupiah, while Indosat fell 2.0 percent to 4,850 rupiah.

-- Bangkok added 0.50 percent, or 5.98 points, to 1,199.30.

Banpu dropped 1.48 percent to 400.00 baht, while PTT lost 0.31 percent to 326.00 baht.

-- Kuala Lumpur closed flat, edging down 0.05 percent, or 0.75 points, to 1,631.60.

Utility Tenaga Nasional lost 0.59 percent to 6.75 ringgit, while Public Bank shed 0.14 percent to 14.36. IHH Healthcare gained 1.59 percent to 3.20 ringgit.

-- Singapore closed up 0.12 percent, or 3.60 points, at 3,036.40.

DBS Bank was steady at Sg$14.74 and Singapore Telecom closed 0.85 percent higher at Sg$3.58.

-- Mumbai rose 0.54 percent, or 92.5 points, to 17,236.18.

State-run oil explorer Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) rose 3.34 percent to 285.8 rupees while Sterlite Industries, the local arm of global resources group Vedanta, rose 2.64 percent to 106.95 rupees.

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