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Asia stocks rise on U.S. hopes

Asia stocks rise on U.S. hopes

Asian stock markets rose yesterday, led by Taiwan, on optimism about emerging strength in the U.S. economy and easing fears about swine flu.
Taiwanese shares soared on hopes for improved business ties with China.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng index surged 648.11 points, or 4.2 percent, to 16,169.10. The Shanghai Composite index in mainland China rose 2.8 percent, while India's Sensex jumped 4.7 percent.
Wall Street advanced modestly Friday, but closed out their best one-month performance in nine years amid hopes that the American economy - a vital export market for Asia - might be stabilizing.
"There are hopeful signs that the U.S. will weather the financial crisis," said Francis Lun, general manager at Fulbright Securities in Hong Kong.
U.S. manufacturing activity in April posted its best showing since September, when the financial crisis erupted. The performance was driven by a rise in new orders reflecting higher business and consumer spending. U.S. stock index futures were also higher, pointing to more gains Monday.
Australian market
Australia's market rose 2.3 percent, while South Korea's Kospi index climbed 2 percent to 1,396.61, its highest level this year, led by gains in local banks including KB Financial Group, the holding company for top South Korean lender Kookmin Bank.
"The market's perhaps turned a corner," said Burrell Stockbroking director Richard Herring in Brisbane, Australia. "A few months ago, it was just looking for bad news and now it's looking for more positive news."
Japan's financial markets are closed until tomorrow for the "Golden Week" holidays.
Investor concerns about swine flu seemed to be fading in the region, even though Asia reported its first two confirmed cases of the virus over the weekend - in Hong Kong and South Korea.
Both cases were in people who had recently arrived from Mexico. The South Korean has recovered and was released yesterday from a military-run hospital just south of Seoul.
The region reported no new confirmed cases on Sunday, though 350 people remained under quarantine in a downtown Hong Kong hotel as a precaution.
Authorities in Mexico, the epicenter of the disease, indicated that the epidemic was easing, and the World Health Organization decided not to raise its alert, though officials warned people against letting their guard down.
Dr. Richard Besser, acting chief of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said swine flu is spreading just as easily as regular winter flu, but said he was encouraged that "we're not seeing some of the things in the virus that have been associated in the past with more severe flu."
On Friday, the Dow Jones industrial average rose 44.29, or 0.5 percent, to 8,212.41. Broader market measures also posted gains.
Dow futures were up 29 points, or 0.4 percent, to 8,210, while S&P futures were up 2.9 points, or 0.3 percent, to 879.
The Federal Reserve said last week that the U.S. recession is starting to ease and signs emerged of a rebound in consumer spending and decline in business inventories even though gross domestic product contracted at a worse-than-expected annual rate of 6.1 percent.