Asian Stocks Up, Japan's Nikkei Extends Gains


BANGKOK (AP) â¿¿ World stock markets rose Tuesday as investors looked ahead to U.S. corporate earnings, but Japan's benchmark index finished marginally lower, ending a four-session rally sparked by the Bank of Japan's bold program to revive the country's moribund economy.

The Nikkei 225 index in Tokyo posted strong gains last week after the head of Japan's central bank, Haruhiko Kuroda, unveiled aggressive action to shake Japan out of nearly two decades of growth-crippling deflation. The bank will pump huge amounts of money into the economy via government bond purchases and pursue a 2 percent inflation target in order to spark lending and spending.

But the rally ran out of stream Tuesday and the Nikkei edged down slightly to close at 13,192.35. The Japanese yen neared 100 to the dollar, its weakest since May 2009, before trimming its losses.

In early European trading, Britain's FTSE rose 0.5 percent to 6,306.03. Germany's DAX rose 0.4 percent to 7,694.96. France's CAC-40 gained 0.7 percent to 3,690.82. Wall Street futures were slightly positive. Dow Jones industrial futures added 0.1 percent to 14,572 and S&P 500 futures gained 0.2 percent to 1,561.70.

With Japan's monetary battle plan now laid out, investors are turning to quarterly earnings reports from major U.S. companies. The reporting season began in earnest Monday when Alcoa, a major maker of aluminum, turned in a mixed report. Its earnings were ahead of expectations but its revenue missed forecasts. Later this week, Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase announce their first-quarter results.

Good performances from banks could boost confidence among investors, said Evan Lucas of IG Markets.

"Credit growth is the one thing that people are struggling to see in the U.S. If you see that, it means there is a bit of stability coming through to the underlying economy," Lucas said.

Gains in Hong Kong and mainland China markets reflected a decreasing sense of alarm over the outbreak of a new bird flu strain in eastern China that has killed seven people so far. There is no sign that the virus is being transmitted from human to human.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.7 percent to 21,870.34 and the Shanghai Composite Index added 0.6 percent to 2,225.77. The smaller Shenzhen Composite Index advanced 0.8 percent to 926.22.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 gained 1.4 percent to 4,973.80. Benchmarks in Singapore and Indonesia also rose. Thailand and Taiwan fell.

South Korea's Kospi rose 0.1 percent to 1,920.74 as tension brewed on the Korean Peninsula amid joint U.S.-South Korean military drills.

Pyongyang recalled all its workers from the Kaesong industrial complex, the last major economic link between South Korea and North Korea. The won hovered at its lowest levels since July 2012. A dollar was buying 1,139.5 won at late afternoon time in Asia.

Australian mining stocks were lifted by gains in commodity prices.

Rio Tinto Ltd. rose 3.5 percent. Fortescue Metals Ltd. jumped 7.3 percent. But Africa-focused miner Sundance Resources plummeted 47 percent as it came out of a three-week trading halt. The company said Monday that it had ended talks with Hanlong Mining after the Chinese company ran into problems financing a $1.3 billion takeover deal.

Benchmark oil for May delivery was up 28 cents to $93.64 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 66 cents to finish at $93.36 a barrel on Monday.

In currencies, the euro rose to $1.3031 from $1.3007 late Monday in New York. The dollar fell to 98.93 yen from 99.24 yen after trading as high as 99.66 yen.


Follow Pamela Sampson on Twitter at

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.