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Asia stocks gains as China manufacturing improves

BANGKOK (AP) -- Asian stock markets were mostly higher Monday after manufacturing surveys suggested China's economic slowdown is plateauing.

The region's gains came despite subdued growth in U.S. incomes and consumer spending that put a dampener on Wall Street at the end of last week.

The possibility of a U.S. military strike against Syria in retaliation for alleged chemical weapons use against civilians continued to overhang markets but the initial panic has faded after U.K. lawmakers voted against British involvement.

Japan's Nikkei 225 stock average was up 1.5 percent at 13,583.56 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng jumped 1.9 percent to 22,141.72. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 climbed 1.1 percent to 5,189.50.

Sentiment was boosted by two surveys that showed China's manufacturing improved last month after prolonged weakness.

The HSBC purchasing managers' index rose to 50.1 in August, a level that indicates expansion as output and new orders edged up slightly and order backlogs rose at the fastest pace in two years. The official China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing PMI rose to 51.0 from July's 50.3, which was the highest level and biggest increase this year.

Both indexes use a 100-point scale on which numbers below 50 indicate contraction.

The signs of improvement in China's massive manufacturing industry are encouraging news for its overseas suppliers as Chinese leaders try to reverse a slowdown that's pulled economic growth to a two-decade low of 7.5 percent in the latest quarter.

Among other Asian markets, South Korea's Kospi was up 0.1 percent at 1,928.68 but China's Shanghai Composite Index shed 0.1 percent to 2,095.64. Benchmarks in Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand and India rose while Indonesia and the Philippines fell.

On Friday, the Dow Jones industrial average fell 30.64 points, or 0.2 percent, to 14,810.31. The S&P 500 fell five points, or 0.3 percent, to 1,632.97. The Nasdaq composite dropped 30.43 points, or 0.8 percent, to 3,589.87.

The U.S. government reported Friday that Americans' income and spending both increased just 0.1 percent in July. The scant rise suggested that economic growth was off to a weak start in the second half of the year. It followed other reports showing steep drops in new-home sales and orders for long-lasting manufactured goods in July.

Benchmark crude for October delivery was down $1.53 at $106.12 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange as Syria fears continued to fade. The contract fell $1.15 to close at $107.65 on Friday.

In currencies, the euro was little changed at $1.3202. The dollar rose to 98.60 yen from 98.19 yen.