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Asian Stocks Rise On Stimulus Bets


Asian stocks rose broadly on Tuesday after Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Janet Yellen came out in support of Chairman Ben Bernanke's efforts to keep interest rates low and China vowed to boost spending and maintain a prudent monetary policy in 2013 to deliver continuous economic growth. Continued hopes that the Bank of Japan may add monetary stimulus as early as April also helped support investor sentiment.

Japanese shares rose modestly, as gains in heavyweight Fast Retailing offset profit-taking in realty firms and export-related stocks after the yen gained ground against both the dollar and euro. The Nikkei average rose 0.3 percent, while the broader Topix index advanced 0.4 percent. Retailer Fast Retailing soared 5.5 percent after reporting a 9.6 percent rise in sales at its Uniqlo casual clothing stores last month.

Real estate and warehouse stocks saw significant profit taking following recent steep gains. Sumitomo Realty & Development and Nomura Real Estate dropped 4-5 percent, while Toyo Logistics slumped 4.9 percent. Automaker Suzuki Motor lost 1.6 percent and Fujitsu declined 2.6 percent. JFE Holdings fell 3 percent after data showed the pace of expansion in the Chinese service sector slowed to a five-month low in February.

China's Shanghai Composite index rallied 2.3 percent after outgoing Premier Wen Jiabao promised increased fiscal spending in 2013 in a bid to deliver economic growth of 7.5 percent for the year. The inflation target has been lowered to 3.5 percent from 4 percent in the previous year, according to remarks prepared for the country's annual parliament meetings beginning Tuesday. Investors, meanwhile, shrugged off downbeat data which showed China's service sector growth moderated in February. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index posted a modest 0.1 percent gain.

Australian shares rallied, led by banks after the Reserve Bank of Australia left its main cash rate unchanged, saying an accommodative stance of monetary policy is having some of the desired impact. Sentiment was also boosted by upbeat retail sales as well as current account data.

The retail sales report showed a better than expected 0.9 percent growth in sales in January, while the nation's current account deficit unexpectedly narrowed to a seasonally adjusted A$14.678 billion in the fourth quarter of 2012 against expectations of expansion. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 rose 1.3 percent, while the broader All Ordinaries index gained 1.2 percent.

Westpac rallied 2.9 percent, leading the gainers in the banking sector, while Commonwealth added 2.3 percent, ANZ rose 1.8 percent and NAB closed up 1.6 percent. Retailers Wesfarmers and Woolworths rose about 3 percent each, while global miner BHP Billiton lost half a percent and rival Rio Tinto eased marginally.

South Korea's Kospi average rose 0.2 percent, led by gains in blue-chip technology stocks after DRAM chip prices hit a 20-month high on Monday. Shares of SK Hynix rallied 3.9 percent and heavyweight Samsung Electronics gained 0.7 percent.

New Zealand shares rose modestly, mirroring firm regional cues. The benchmark NZX-50 index gained 0.4 percent, led by the Warehouse Group ahead of its first-half results on Friday and as it signed an agreement to buy online retailer Torpedo7. Shares of the biggest retailer on the exchange rose 2.1 percent, while dual-listed lenders ANZ and Westpac rose 1-2 percent.

Fletcher Building, the nation's largest construction company, advanced 1.3 percent on optimism the Australian housing market is on a recovery path. Sky Network Television fell 2.9 percent after Rupert Murdoch's News Corp completed the sale of its 43.6 percent stake in the local pay-tv operator. Heavyweight Telecom lost 1.1 percent and telecommunications infrastructure company Chorus dropped 1.4 percent.

Elsewhere, India's benchmark Sensex was up 1.4 percent, Malaysia's KLSE Composite index gained 0.4 percent, Singapore's Straits Times index rose 0.3 percent and the Taiwan Weighted average advanced 0.8 percent, while Indonesia's Jakarta Composite index slipped 0.2 percent.

U.S. stocks rebounded from an early slide overnight, with Washington in focus after about $85 billion in automatic, across-the-board spending cuts went into effect last Friday. Concerns over sluggish growth in China and Beijing's latest property market tightening measures also triggered a slide early in the session. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.3 percent, the tech-heavy Nasdaq advanced 0.4 percent and the S&P 500 added half a percent.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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