KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) -- Asian stock markets were mostly higher Monday amid growing expectations that the U.S. Federal Reserve won't start reducing its monetary stimulus until at least the first quarter of next year.
With uncertainty over the raising of the U.S. borrowing limit temporarily resolved, investors have focused on other matters, notably when the Federal Reserve will reduce its mammoth monetary stimulus that has been a boon for stock markets.
U.S. hiring and durable goods orders for September were weaker than expected, signaling that growth momentum may be slowing and reinforcing expectations that a scaling back of stimulus known as "tapering" won't begin until next year, Mitul Kotecha of Credit Agricole CIB in Hong Kong said in a market commentary.
Further U.S. data releases this week including September industrial production, retail sales, inflation and consumer confidence as well as a Fed policy meeting could reaffirm that expectation, he said. The Fed is buying $85 billion of U.S. government bonds and other securities with the aim of keeping interest rates low to support economic recovery.
"The bad news is good philosophy of markets means that data is helping to aid expectations that Fed tapering may be delayed," he said. "We continue to anticipate tapering to begin in January although admittedly the market is shifting expectations to even later."
Japan's Nikkei 225 rose 1.8 percent to 14,340.01 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 0.5 percent to 22,807.11. Seoul's Kospi was up 0.4 percent at 2,042.06. Benchmarks in Taiwan, Jakarta, Malaysia and Singapore were also higher.
However, China's Shanghai Composite Index bucked the trend to fall 0.2 percent to 2,128.29 amid continuing concerns over a credit crunch after China's central bank last week refused to inject funds into money markets to curb frothy credit growth.
Wall Street was bolstered on Friday by strong earnings from U.S. technology companies such as Microsoft. The Dow rose 61.07 points, or 0.4 percent, to close at a record 15,570.28. The S&P 500 rose 7.70 points, 0.4 percent, to 1,759.77. The Nasdaq composite rose 14.40 points, or 0.4 percent, to 3,943.36. That was its highest close since September 2000.
In energy trading, benchmark U.S. crude for December delivery was down 18 cents at $97.67 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract gained 74 cents to close at $97.85 on Friday.
The euro was little changed at $1.3808. The dollar fell to 97.59 yen from 97.63 yen late Friday in New York.
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