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Most Asian markets gain as Japanese stocks rise ahead of long weekend

Most Asian markets gain as Japanese stocks rise ahead of long weekend

Most Asian markets rose Wednesday, with Japanese stocks advancing ahead of a long weekend and as Hong Kong shares buoyed by Wall Street's overnight advance.
In Tokyo, the benchmark Nikkei 225 stock index added 119.94 points, or 0.69 percent, to finish at 17,394.92 points, nearly recouping the 0.72 percent drop Tuesday.
Commodity and rebounding consumer finance stocks led the gains in Tokyo, where markets will be closed Thursday and Friday.
Nippon Steel Corp. was among the winners Wednesday, adding 1.9 percent to 812 yen (US$6.77). Personal finance company Promise Co. also gained ground, adding 4.6 percent to 3,840 yen (US$32.04).
In Hong Kong, shares rose, buoyed by gains made by index heavyweight HSBC and and by U.S. stocks Tuesday. The blue chip Hang Seng Index rose 69.51 points, or 0.34 percent, to 20,388.49.
But traders said gains in the Hang Seng Index in the near term will be limited, as investors remain wary over possible austerity measures China may take to prevent the economy from overheating.
"The Hang Seng Index is unlikely to break the resistance level of 20,500 this week due to lingering concerns about possible further economy-tightening measures in China," said Y.K. Chan, Strategist at Phillip Capital Management(HK) Ltd.
HSBC rose 0.8 percent to HK$145.40 due to a number of factors. Dubai International Capital LLC said Tuesday that it had made a substantial investment in the bank, and Spanish property developer Metrovacesa said Monday it bought HSBC's Canary Wharf headquarters for 1.09 billion pounds.
Most blue chips ended higher, led by fashion retailer Esprit, which rose 3.98 percent to HK$99.30 on strength in the euro currency. The company receives most of its revenue from European markets.
But Chinese banks retreated, as China announced it will raise commercial banks' reserve requirement ratio another 0.5 percentage point to 11 percent from May 15.
ICBC fell 0.7 percent to HK$4.26, while China Construction bank dropped 0.42 percent to HK$4.76. Bank of China ended 0.5 percent lower at HK$3.86.
In currencies, the U.S. dollar was trading at 119.86 yen mid-Wednesday, up from 119.72 yen late Tuesday in New York. The euro fell to US$1.3586, from US$1.3620.
Elsewhere:
BANGKOK: Thai shares ended 0.9 percent higher at 705.47, their highest closing level in four months.
JAKARTA: Indonesian shares rose slightly, as late buying in consumer goods producer Unilever Indonesia and coal miner Bukit Asam erased earlier losses. The Jakarta Stock Exchange Composite index closed up 7.38 points, or 0.4 percent, to 2,008.56.
MANILA: Philippine shares rose marginally, led by Manila Electric Co. on expectations of high second-quarter electricity revenue amid hot temperatures. The benchmark 30-company Philippine Stock Exchange Index gained 1.26 points, or 0.04 percent, at 3,271.99, after Monday's 1.4 percent fall.
SEOUL: South Korean shares rose on gains in Hyundai Motor Co. and shipping companies. The Korea Composite Stock Price Index rose 11.06 points, or 0.7 percent, to 1,553.30.
SINGAPORE: Singapore's shares gained, helped by generally healthy quarterly earnings, but traders said the market may struggle to find new positive cues. The Straits Times Index closed up 56.52 points, or 1.7 percent, at 3,417.81.
SYDNEY: Australian shares advanced strongly, as gains in base metal prices and U.S. shares combined with merger and acquisition activity and a steady interest rate decision from the central bank. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index closed up 91.9 points or 1.5 percent at a six-day high of 6,237.7.
TAIPEI: Taiwan shares rose, boosted by strength in neighboring Asian bourses. The Weighted Price Index of the Taiwan Stock Exchange gained 27.62 points, or 0.4 percent, to close at 7,903.04.
WELLINGTON: New Zealand's stocks slipped, as losses in bellwether Telecom and profit-taking in a number of blue chips weighed on an otherwise directionless market. The benchmark NZX-50 index fell 4.67 points, or 0.1 percent, to 4,186.99.
Markets in China, India and Malaysia were closed Wednesday for a public holiday.