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Asia Stocks Rise As Investors Cheer US Jobs Data

By PAMELA SAMPSON

BANGKOK (AP) â¿¿ Asian stock markets rose Monday after a surprisingly strong U.S. jobs report pushed Wall Street stocks to new highs. Malaysian shares jumped after the country's ruling political alliance won national elections.

The Dow Jones industrial average and the Standard & Poor's 500 index both rose to record highs Friday after the Labor Department reported that U.S. employers added 165,000 workers last month and many more in February and March than previously estimated. The unemployment rate fell to 7.5 percent, which was the lowest level in four years.

The report counterbalanced weeks of mixed signals about manufacturing and corporate earnings and renewed hopes of a recovery in the world's largest economy.

"The dichotomy between hard economic data and asset market performance continues but unlike over past weeks at least there was some justification for the rally in equity markets following the stronger than expected US April jobs report," said a market commentary from Credit Agricole CIB in Hong Kong.

Malaysia's KLSE Composite surged 2.9 percent to 1,744.50 after the country's governing coalition won national elections, albeit with a weakened majority, to extend its unbroken, 56-year rule.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 1.1 percent to 22,932.93. South Korea's Kospi was 0.3 percent higher at 1,972.27. Australia's S&P/ASX advanced 1 percent to 5,178.80. Benchmarks in Singapore, Taiwan and the Philippines also rose. Japan's Nikkei 225 index was closed for a public holiday.

On Friday, the Dow crossed 15,000 for the first time before closing 1 percent higher at 14,973.96. The S&P 500 index rose 1 percent to 1,614.42, closing above 1,600 for the first time. The Nasdaq composite index 1.1 percent to 3,378.63.

Benchmark oil for June delivery was up 97 cents to $96.58 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose $1.62 to close at $95.61 a barrel on the Nymex on Friday.

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