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Asian stocks up, Japan's Nikkei extends gains

Pamela Sampson, AP Business Writer

Money traders work under a screen indicating the U.S. dollar is trading at 98.500 yen at a foreign exchange company, in Tokyo, Monday, April 8, 2013. (AP Photo/Itsuo Inouye)

BANGKOK (AP) -- Japan's benchmark stock index rose for a fifth straight day Tuesday, extending a rally sparked last week after the Bank of Japan announced a bold program to revive the country's moribund economy. Other Asian stock markets were modestly higher.

The head of Japan's central bank, Haruhiko Kuroda, on Thursday delivered on promises to take aggressive action to shake Japan out of nearly two decades of growth-crippling deflation. He unveiled plans to pump huge amounts of money into the economy via government bond purchases and pursue a 2 percent inflation target in order to spark lending and spending.

Japan's Nikkei 225 index rose 0.2 percent to 13,223.39 as the yen traded at its weakest against the U.S. dollar since May 2009.

With Japan's monetary battle plan now laid out, investors are turning to quarterly earnings reports from major U.S. companies. The reporting season began in earnest Monday when Alcoa, a major maker of aluminum, turned in a mixed report. Its earnings were ahead of expectations but its revenue missed forecasts. Later this week, Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase announce their first-quarter results.

Good performances from banks could boost confidence among investors, said Evan Lucas of IG Markets.

"Credit growth is the one thing that people are struggling to see in the U.S. If you see that, it means there is a bit of stability coming through to the underlying economy," Lucas said.

Gains in Hong Kong and mainland China markets reflected a decreasing sense of alarm over the outbreak of a new bird flu strain in eastern China that has killed seven people so far. There is no sign that the virus is being transmitted from human to human.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.9 percent to 21,918.09 and the Shanghai Composite Index added 0.4 percent to 2,221.42. The smaller Shenzhen Composite Index advanced 0.6 percent to 923.59.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 gained 1.1 percent to 4,960.30. Benchmarks in Singapore and Indonesia also rose. Thailand and Taiwan fell.

South Korea's Kospi dropped 0.3 percent to 1,913.71 as tension brewed on the Korean Peninsula amid joint U.S.-South Korean military drills.

Pyongyang recalled all its workers from the Kaesong industrial complex, the last major economic link between the Koreas that is managed by South Koreans and staffed by North Korean workers. The won hovered at its lowest levels since July 2012. A dollar was buying 1,137 won at midday in Asia.

Australian mining stocks advanced on the back of gains in commodity prices.

Rio Tinto Ltd. rose 3.1 percent. Fortescue Metals Ltd. jumped 6.3 percent. But Africa-focused miner Sundance Resources plummeted 45 percent as it came out of a three-week trading halt. The company said Monday that it had ended talks with Hanlong Mining after the Chinese company ran into problems financing a $1.3 billion takeover deal.

Wall Street ended higher Monday. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 0.3 percent to 14,613.48. The Standard & Poor's 500 rose 0.6 percent to 1,563.07. The Nasdaq composite gained 0.6 percent to 3,222.25.

Benchmark oil for May delivery was up 23 cents to $93.59 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 66 cents to finish at $93.36 a barrel on Monday.

In currencies, the euro rose to $1.3047 from $1.3007 late Monday in New York. The dollar rose slightly to 99.26 yen from 99.24 yen.


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