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Asia Markets: Higher Monday In Light Action

The Asian stock markets are expected to move higher on Monday, although most of the regional bourses are shut down for the Lunar New Year holiday.

The few markets still in action get a positive lead from positive economic data from the United States. The Commerce Department reported a much narrower than expected U.S. trade deficit for December, which could lead to an upward revision to the disappointing fourth quarter GDP data.

The U.S. trade deficit narrowed to $38.5 billion in December from a revised $48.6 billion in November, versus forecasts for a deficit of $46.0 billion. The December figure reflected the smallest U.S. trade deficit since the $37.1 billion deficit in January of 2010.

The initial report on Q4 GDP showed a 0.1 percent contraction compared to estimates for an increase of 1.0 percent.

The major U.S. averages were up on Friday as the Dow added 48.92 points or 0.35 percent to finish at 13,992.97, while the NASDAQ jumped 28.74 points or 0.91 percent to close at 3,193.87 and the S&P 500 gained 8.54 points or 0.57 percent to end at 1,517.93.

The major European markets also were up on Friday as the DAX of Germany climbed 0.81 percent and the CAC 40 of France jumped 1.35 percent. The FTSE 100 of the U.K. gained 0.47 percent and the SMI of Switzerland added 0.80 percent.

The Asian markets were mixed on Friday as South Korea's KOSPI climbed 0.99 percent, while Australia added 0.68 percent, China's Shanghai Composite collected 0.57 percent, Malaysia and Singapore both were up 0.26 percent and Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 0.16 percent.

Moving lower, Japan's Nikkei plunged 1.80 percent, while India's Sensex shed 0.49 percent, Indonesia lost 0.26 percent and Thailand eased 0.17 percent.

Most of the markets are closed on Monday, including South Korea, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, China, Hong Kong and the Philippines.

South Korea, Japan and the Philippines return to trade on Tuesday, while Singapore and Malaysia come back on Wednesday. Hong Kong returns to action on Thursday, while China and Taiwan are off until next Monday.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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