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Asia shares mostly up after Wall St record

Asian markets mostly rose Monday following a record close on Wall Street that was fuelled by upbeat US data, while Tokyo was boosted by a weaker yen.

HONG KONG: Asian markets mostly rose Monday following a record close on Wall Street that was fuelled by upbeat US data, while Tokyo was boosted by a weaker yen.

The euro sat around a three-month low against the greenback following big gains for Euro-sceptic candidates in European Parliament elections, while traders were also spooked by a fall in an index of German business confidence.

Tokyo shares closed up 0.97 per cent, or 140.35 points to finish at 14,602.52 and Sydney rose 0.36 per cent, or 20.013 points, to 5512.8 while Seoul slipped 0.34 per cent, or 6.82 points to 2,010.35.

Chinese stocks ended higher in afternoon trade Monday, as remarks by President Xi Jinping about developing electric vehicles boosted the sector, while government moves to loosen restrictions on the property market in some cities and open up more projects to private investment set a positive tone, analysts said.

Shanghai added 0.34 per cent, or 6.91 points, to 2,041.48 while Hong Kong was flat, edging down 2.68 points to 22,963.18.

Regional markets last week enjoyed broad advances after a sharp improvement in Chinese manufacturing activity and positive comments about interest rates from the US Federal Reserve.

US shares rallied on Friday after the Commerce Department said new single-family homes were sold at an annual rate of 433,000 units in April, well above analysts' forecast of 415,000.

The news added to a growing sense that the world's biggest economy is well on the recovery track. The S&P 500 advanced 0.42 per cent to 1,900.53, ending above the 1,900 barrier for the first time.

The Dow rose 0.38 per cent and the Nasdaq gained 0.76 per cent in quiet trade as investors wound down for the Memorial Day holiday weekend.

Market-watchers will be keeping an eye on the release later in the week of key US data, including gross domestic product growth and housing figures.

On currency markets the dollar benefited from rising confidence in the global economy, making fresh inroads against the yen.

The greenback bought 101.93 yen in the afternoon, against 101.92 yen in New York and well up from 101.72 yen earlier Friday in Tokyo.

The euro stood at $1.3630 and 138.89 yen, from $1.3632 and 138.91 in New York on Friday.

The single currency was dealt a blow on Friday after Germany's Ifo business climate index for May dropped to 110.4 from 111.2. The slip followed a gain the previous month and underscores ongoing concerns about the European economy.

Markets are also increasingly convinced that the European Central Bank will take steps to loosen monetary policy at its June meeting as it looks to kickstart growth and inflation.

Anti-Europe parties saw a surge in support at the parliamentary polls, with France's far-right National Front and Britain's UKIP leading the rout of mainstream groups.

While the sceptics will hold about 140 seats in the 751-seat assembly, the results raise concerns they could gum up its process or try to hold Parliament hostage, working against the European Union from within.

Oil prices edged lower after Ukraine's presidential election passed off without major incident and saw a victory for the pro-Western candidate.

Chocolate baron Petro Poroshenko won outright and immediately vowed to end a bloody pro-Russian uprising that has tipped the country towards civil war.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday said he would respect the outcome of the election.

The US benchmark, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for delivery in July, fell 26 cents to $104.09 per barrel in afternoon trade. Brent North Sea crude for July delivery dropped 54 cents to $110.00.

Crude prices have been rising in tandem with the events in Ukraine as the country is a major conduit for Russian oil and gas exports to Europe, and any escalation of the conflict could disrupt supplies and send prices soaring.

Gold fetched $1,293.04 an ounce at 1050 GMT compared with $1,291.65 late Friday.

In other markets:

-- Bangkok edged down 0.61 per cent or 8.55 points to close at 1.388.29.

Coal producer Banpu lost 0.85 points to 29.25 baht while PTT fell 2.63 per cent or 8.00 baht to 296.00 baht.

-- Kuala Lumpur's main stock index lost 6.42 points or 0.34 per cent to 1,862.80.

Plantation giant IOI lost 2.0 per cent to 4.95, while SapuraKencana Petroleum fell 0.5 per cent to 4.07 ringgit. Telekom Malaysia gained 1.6 per cent to 6.31 ringgit.

-- Jakarta closed down 0.18 per cent, or 9.13 points, at 4,963.93.

Palm oil company Astra Agro Lestari lost 0.56 per cent to 26,850 rupiah, while cigarette maker Gudang Garam rose 0.05 per cent to 53,525 rupiah.

-- Mumbai's benchmark share index rose 0.10 per cent or 23.53 points to 24,716.88 points.

Shree Cements gained 6.38 per cent to 6,930.00 rupees while auto-maker Mahindra & Mahindra rose 6.23 per cent to 1,230.30 rupees.

-- Manila slid 0.31 per cent, or 20.91 points, to 6,790.42.

MegaWorld Corp added 1.11 per cent to 4.57 pesos, Manila Electric Co was unchanged at 263.80 pesos and Philippine Long Distance Telephone dipped 0.07 per cent to 2,900.00 pesos.

-- Singapore's Straits Times Index rose 0.15 per cent, or 4.86 points, to 3,282.88.

United Overseas Bank gained 0.67 per cent to S$22.50 while Singapore Telecommunications was also up 0.78 per cent to S$3.87.

-- Taipei was up 0.31 per cent, or 27.90 points, at 9036.12.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co closed 0.82 per cent higher to Tw$123.0 while Hon Hai Precision was 0.54 per cent off at Tw$92.5.

-- Wellington was flat, edging up 2.31 points to 5,153.68.

Fletcher Building rose 0.44 per cent to NZ$9.20 and Warehouse Group was off 0.29 per cent at N$3.44.

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