Asian stock markets make muted gains

Associated Press + More

BANGKOK (AP) — Asian stock markets mostly posted muted gains Monday after the Chinese premier's downbeat comments on the world's No. 2 economy kept alive hopes for more stimulus measures.

The weekend comments from Web Jiabao came after China reported that economic growth fell to a three-year low of 7.6 percent in the second quarter.

Growth was down from the previous quarter's 8.1 percent, damping hopes that China can make up for U.S. and European weakness, but in line with the government's official target of 7.5 percent for the year

Wen said China's economy has not yet entered a recovery and "economic difficulties may continue for some time." He vowed more measures to help struggling sectors.

Market attention is now turning to quarterly corporate earnings and to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's testimony to Congress on Tuesday and Wednesday.

There have been expectations the Fed might loosen monetary policy even further to help reinvigorate the stalled U.S. recovery. But analysts say Bernanke is unlikely to foreshadow policy changes in his testimony.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng was up 0.1 percent at 19,119.81 and South Korea's Kopsi was little changed at 1,813.37. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 added 0.8 percent to 4,112.80. Markets in Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines also rose.

China's Shanghai Composite was down 0.9 percent at 2,165.37. Japan's markets are closed for a public holiday.

In energy trading, benchmark crude for August delivery was down 32 cents at $86.78 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract on Friday rose $1.02 to finish at $87.10 per barrel in New York.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.