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Asia Stocks Muted On Slack US Jobs Data; Nikkei Up

By PAMELA SAMPSON

BANGKOK (AP) â¿¿ Asian stock markets were mixed Monday amid concerns about tensions on the Korean Peninsula and bird flu in China, but European stocks rose as traders looked ahead to corporate earnings season in the U.S.

The Nikkei in Tokyo, meanwhile, piled on more gains as the yen's dramatic fall boosted the country's powerhouse export sector. The Japanese yen has weakened sharply in the aftermath of a surprise decision Thursday by the Bank of Japan to overhaul its monetary policy in a bid to snap Japan out of years of deflation.

The Nikkei 225 in Tokyo shot up 2.8 percent to close at 13,192.59, its highest close since August 2008. The dollar vaulted to 98.56 yen from 94.13 yen late Friday in New York. A weaker currency can help make Japanese exports more price competitive in overseas markets. Suzuki Motor Corp. surged 8.1 percent. Sharp Corp. advanced 7.3 percent.

European stocks rose in early trading. Britain's FTSE 100 advanced 0.4 percent to 6,276.88. Germany's DAX rose 0.3 percent to 7,684.48 and France's CAC-40 added 0.6 percent to 3,684.29. Wall Street appeared poised for a higher opening. Dow Jones industrial futures rose 0.2 percent to 14,516 and S&P 500 futures rose 0.3 percent to 1,550.40.

Aluminum giant Alcoa Inc. kicks off another U.S. earnings season when it reports first-quarter results Monday after the markets close. On Friday, JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Wells Fargo report quarterly financial results.

Elsewhere, South Korea's Kospi lost 0.4 percent to close at 1,918.69, its lowest level since November 2012 as tensions between Seoul and Pyongyang remained high. North Korea has for weeks been threatening military or other action to punish South Korea and the U.S. for holding joint military drills.

"Compared to the past, the hostility of North Korea this time is extraordinary in some measures. In this regard, there is an impact to our financial markets to a certain degree," Hyun Oh-seok, South Korea's finance minister, told reporters. "We are closely monitoring the impact on financial markets and the economy."

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