Easing of concerns over Syria boost Asian shares

Asian stocks buoyed by positive data from China, Japan and easing of concerns over Syria

Associated Press
Markets muted as focus returns to Fed

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People walk by an electronic stock board of a securities firm in Tokyo as Japan's bench mark Nikkei 225 index shows 258.36 points gain to 14,119.17 Monday morning, Sept. 9, 2013. Asian stocks opened higher on Monday, lifted by Tokyo's Olympic bid victory, Chinese export growth and an Australian conservative coalition's election victory. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

MANILA, Philippines (AP) -- Asian shares rose Tuesday, buoyed by good data from Japan and China and some relief that concerns over Syria have receded with Russia's offer to press Damascus to put its chemical weapons under international control.

Tokyo's Nikkei 225, the regional heavyweight, was up 1.5 percent in afternoon trading at 14,423.36. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index was up 0.5 percent to 22,872.89, China's Shanghai Composite index rose 0.6 percent at 2,226.62. Benchmarks in Indonesia, India and the Philippines were up nearly 2 percent or more. South Korea's Kospi rose 1 percent to 1,994.06 and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 advanced 0.4 percent to 5,201.20..

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov promised Monday to push Russia's ally Syria to place its chemical weapons under international control and then dismantle them quickly to avert U.S. strikes. Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem quickly embraced the proposal.

President Barack Obama has called for military intervention in Syria after alleging that the regime of President Bashar Assad used deadly chemical weapons against civilians in suburban Damascus last month.

Andrew Sullivan at Kim Eng Securities in Hong Kong said markets were boosted by the easing of concerns over Syria in the short term and continuing good data out of Japan and China, Asia's two biggest economies.

"I think generally people are more optimistic," he said, adding that the minutes of the last Bank of Japan meeting released Tuesday morning were also "quite positive."

On Monday, Japanese shares rallied thanks to Tokyo's Olympic bid victory, which helped lift sentiment, while Chinese stocks surged after the economy recorded a bigger-than-expected trade surplus of $28.6 billion in August.

Sullivan said people who have money sitting on the sidelines also are investing as the last quarter of the year rolls in, either in hope of a third quarter rally or in preparation for the first quarter next year.

But there are still a lot of risks out there, he added, including a crucial meeting of the Federal Reserve's policymaking committee next week. The Fed is widely expected to announce plans to start phasing out its support program for the U.S. economy. Meanwhile, the fiscal year ends Sept. 30, and government agencies will start shutting down if some type of budget bill isn't enacted by then.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average rose 1 percent to close at 15,063.12 on Monday. The Dow hit an all-time high of 15,658 on Aug. 2, but worries about Syria and rising interest rates pushed stocks down since then. The last time the Dow closed above 15,000 was Aug. 23.

Benchmark oil for October delivery fell $1.04 to $108.49 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell $1.01 to close at $109.52 a barrel on the Nymex on Monday, spelling good news for shares in Asia, which relies heavily on oil imports.

In currencies, the euro rose to $1.3269 from $1.3251 late Monday. The dollar rose to 99.87 yen from 99.70 yen.

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