Asia Stocks Muted As Cheer Over US Jobs Fades


BANGKOK (AP) â¿¿ World stock markets were pushed higher Wednesday by an improvement in China's trade and yet another record-busting session on Wall Street.

The Dow Jones industrial average closed above 15,000 for the first time ever Tuesday, driven by optimism that the U.S. economy will keep gaining momentum.

There was also good news from China, where the government reported that growth in imports and exports accelerated in April, suggesting that the world's No. 2 economy might be strengthening after an unexpected decline in the first quarter of 2013.

But some analysts refrained from drawing too many conclusions from just one set of monthly data. There are also persistent doubts about the accuracy of China's official economic statistics. China's export figures often vary greatly from the Chinese import figures recorded by trading partner countries.

"We still cannot conclude that China's economy is doing good," said Linus Yip, strategist for First Shanghai Securities in Hong Kong. "I think at this moment, it is encouraging and it helps market sentiment."

In early European trading, Britain's FTSE 100 rose less than 0.1 percent to 6,560.92. Germany's DAX advanced 0.1 percent to 8,189.52. France's CAC-40 added 0.4 percent to 3,936.51.

Wall Street futures were mixed, with Dow Jones futures rising less than 0.1 percent to 14,989. S&P 500 futures were marginally lower at 1,620.30.

Japan's Nikkei 225 index rose 0.7 percent to 14,285.69, its highest close in almost five years. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 gained 1.1 percent to 5,199.80. South Korea's Kospi advanced 0.1 percent to 1,956.45. Benchmarks in Singapore, Taiwan, Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines rose.

In mainland China, the Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.5 percent to 2,246.3, while the smaller Shenzhen Composite Index rose 1.1 percent to 965.41. Shares in biotechnology, information technology and media-related companies led the gains.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 0.9 percent to 23,244.35, driven by a 1.7 percent rise in locally listed shares of HSBC Holdings. The London-headquartered bank, Europe's largest by market value, on Tuesday reported a doubling in profits for the first quarter of the year.

Among individual stocks, Japanese mobile phone carrier Softbank Corp. jumped 2.9 percent after reports said it will launch a smartphone-based health service in the coming months, Kyodo News reported. Australian resource-related shares rose. OZ minerals surged 6.3 percent. BHP Billiton, the world's largest mining company, rose 1.9 percent.

Analysts at DBS Bank Ltd. in Singapore said in a commentary that investors view the U.S. economy as one that is "growing, more or less, and that's a heck of a lot better than what's going on in Europe," which is mired in recession.

Benchmark oil for June delivery was up 6 cents to $95.68 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 54 cents to finish at $95.62 per barrel on the Nymex on Tuesday.

In currencies, the euro rose to $1.3117 from $1.3084 late Tuesday in New York. The dollar fell to 98.84 yen from 99.40 yen.


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