By PAMELA SAMPSON
BANGKOK (AP) â¿¿ Rising factory output in China and better-than-expected jobs numbers out of the U.S. helped lift Asian stock markets on Monday.
Investors delved into riskier assets a day after China's National Bureau of Statistics reported that factory output increased 10.1 percent from a year earlier, a sign of recovery from an economic slowdown in the world's No. 2 economy.
The followed the release Friday in the U.S. of data that showed employers added 146,000 jobs in November, beating economists' estimates. The unemployment rate also fell to 7.7 percent from 7.9 percent, but that was mainly because more people gave up looking for work.
Japan's Nikkei 225 index rose 0.2 percent to 9,547.10. South Korea's Kospi added 0.2 percent to 1,961.42. Hong Kong's Hang Seng advanced 0.7 percent to 22,342.80 and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.3 percent to 4,564.80.
Budget negotiations are continuing between the White House and the U.S. Congress in order to reach a deal before the economy hits a "fiscal cliff" â¿¿ a series of sharp government spending cuts and the expiration of tax cuts that begin to kick in Jan. 1 and could cause a recession.
President Barack Obama and Republican House Speaker John Boehner met Sunday to discuss the budget. No details were released, but there was speculation that Republicans were getting close to granting a key concession â¿¿ Obama's demand for higher taxes on the wealthiest Americans to help reduce the budget deficit. For their part, Republicans are demanding steeper cuts in costly welfare programs.
"Talks between the administration and senior Republicans will continue this week but it appears that some senior Republicans are willing to give up their objections to tax hikes on the very wealthy," said analysts at Credit Agricole CIB in Hong Kong.
Benchmark oil for January delivery rose 28 cents to $86.22 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 33 cents to finish at $85.93 per barrel on the Nymex on Friday.