Asian stocks rise on hopes for stimulus measures

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By ALEX KENNEDY, Associated Press

SINGAPORE (AP) — Asian stock markets rose Tuesday amid expectations policymakers will implement stimulus measures to help spur weak global growth.

Japan's Nikkei 225 index rose 0.6 percent to 9,055.47 and South Korea's Kospi gained 1 percent to 1,869.75. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 inched up to 4,134. China's Shanghai Composite advanced 0.4 percent to 2,234.03.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng jumped 1.5 percent to 19.724.92. Markets in Hong Kong were closed Monday to commemorate the hand-over of the territory to China in 1997.

The Institute for Supply Management said Monday that U.S. manufacturing shrank in June for the first time in almost three years, highlighting concerns that the world's largest economy remains mired in weak economic growth.

Traders have begun to expect the European Central Bank to cut lending rates and the Bank of England to boost money in circulation at meetings later this week. There are also hopes that Japan and China will bolster the global policy response with stimulus measures of their own.

"The world economy has stumbled, with trade especially weakening into June," said Frederic Neumann, co-head of Asian economic research for HSBC in Hong Kong. "Monetary stimulus, possibly by the ECB this week in the form of a rate cut, and later this month by the Bank of Japan, are needed. Plus, in China, there's lots more the government can do to ratchet things up."

Some analysts say global economic growth might have already bottomed and any signs of improvement will send stocks higher, despite worries about Europe's ongoing debt and economic crisis.

"After the interruption in the second quarter, financial markets are back in 'good enough' mode," said Tim Condon, head of Asia research for ING in Singapore. "We expect risk assets, such as emerging and developed market equities, to reverse their second quarter losses in the third quarter."

Markets in the U.S. will be open for a half-day Tuesday and closed Wednesday for the Independence Day holiday.

On Monday, the Dow Jones industrial average closed down less than 0.1 percent at 12,871.39. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 0.3 percent to 1,365.51. The Nasdaq composite average added 0.6 percent to 2,951.23.

Benchmark oil for August delivery was down 2 cents at $83.73 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell $1.21 to close at $83.75 in New York on Monday.

In currencies, the euro rose to $1.2585 from $1.2579 late Monday in New York. The dollar rose to 79.62 yen from 79.51 yen.

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