Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Asia stocks up as jobs data boosts recovery hopes

HONG KONG: Asian stocks gained Monday as a better-than-expected report about the U.S. job market boosted confidence in the economic recovery.

Major markets added as much as 2 percent in the region's second day higher. The euro got a boost after France voiced support for debt-laden Greece, while oil prices edged toward $82 a barrel.

As in the U.S., investors in Asia welcomed Friday's news the U.S. economy lost fewer jobs than expected last month. Employers cut 36,000 jobs last month, better than the 50,000 cuts predicted. The unemployment rate was unchanged at 9.7 percent.

Investors were also encouraged after French President Nicolas Sarkozy promised European support for Greece through a debt crisis that has jeopardized all 16 nations in the common currency.

Japan's Nikkei 225 stock average rose 174.93 points, or 1.7 percent, to 10,543.89 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng jumped 411.57 points, or 2 percent, to 21,199.54.

South Korea's Kospi added 1.2 percent to 1,654.40. Elsewhere, Australia's market was up 0.7 percent, Shanghai shares gained 0.8 percent and Indian stocks were 1 percent higher.

In oil, benchmark crude for April delivery rose 44 cents to $81.94 a barrel.

The dollar little changed at 90.42 yen. The euro rose to $1.3679 from $1.3629.

Friday on Wall Street, the Dow rose 122.06, or 1.2 percent, to 10,566.20, its highest close since Jan. 20. It was the Dow's best point and percentage gain since Feb. 16.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose for a sixth straight day, rising 15.73, or 1.4 percent, to 1,138.70. The Nasdaq composite index added 34.04, or 1.5 percent, to 2,326.35.

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