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Asian Markets Mostly Higher With Modest Gains

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Asian stock markets are mostly higher on Monday with modest gains as weak economic data from the U.S. and China raised hopes of further stimulus from global central banks. Data released Friday showed weaker than expected U.S. jobs growth in the month of August, while data from China showed that the country's exports unexpectedly fell in the month.

The Australian market is modestly higher on optimism of further stimulus from central banks.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is 9.70 points or 0.15 percent to 6,657.00, after touching a high of 6,659.70 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is rising 15.40 points or 0.23 percent to 6,768.10. Australian stocks eked out modest gains on Friday.

The big four banks are advancing. ANZ Banking, National Australia Bank, Commonwealth Bank and Westpac are higher in a range of 0.1 percent to 0.5 percent.

Shares of Suncorp are adding 0.4 percent after the financial services company said it has appointed interim chief executive Steve Johnston on a permanent basis.

The major miners are lower. Fortescue Metals, Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton are declining almost 1 percent each.

Gold miner Newcrest Mining is losing more than 4 percent and Evolution Mining is declining more than 2 percent after gold prices declined.

In the oil space, Santos is down 0.2 percent, Woodside Petroleum is declining 0.5 percent and Oil Search is lower by 0.7 percent, even as crude oil prices rose on Friday.

Coca-Cola Amatil said it will fold its Australia-based alcohol and coffee portfolios into the larger Australian beverages segment amid a restructuring. The company's shares are rising 0.6 percent.

In economic news, Australia will provide July data for home loans today.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is higher against the U.S. dollar on Monday. The local currency was quoted at $0.6846, compared to $0.6827 on Friday.

The Japanese market is rising on hopes of more stimulus from central banks.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is adding 120.33 points or 0.57 percent to 21,319.90, after rising to a high of 21,320.26 earlier. Japanese shares closed higher for the fourth straight day on Friday.

The major exporters are mixed on a slightly stronger yen. Sony is advancing almost 2 percent and Mitsubishi Electric is adding 0.5 percent, while Panasonic is lower by 0.2 percent and Canon is edging down 0.1 percent.

In the tech space, Advantest is rising 0.5 percent and Tokyo Electron is higher by almost 2 percent. In the auto sector, Honda Motor is declining 1 percent, while Toyota Motor is rising 0.7 percent.

The Nikkei business daily reported that Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa has expressed his intention to step down after it was revealed that Saikawa and other executives received excess compensation. Shares of Nissan are down 0.2 percent.

Market heavyweight SoftBank is declining 0.7 percent, while Fast Retailing is adding 0.3 percent.

Among oil stocks, Japan Petroleum is edging up 0.1 percent and Inpex is adding 0.4 percent after crude oil prices rose on Friday.

Among the other major losers, Dena Co. is lower by more than 2 percent.

On the economic front, the Ministry of Finance said that Japan had a current account surplus of 1,999.9 billion in July, down 1.3 percent on year. That was shy of expectations for a surplus of 2,046 billion yen and up from 1,211.2 billion yen in June.

The trade balance showed a deficit of 74.5 billion yen, shy of expectations for a deficit of 24.0 billion yen and down from the 759.3 billion yen surplus in the previous month.

The Bank of Japan said that overall bank lending in Japan was up 2.1 percent on year in August, coming in at 537.976 trillion yen. That follows the 2.3 percent annual increase in July.

Japan will also release final second-quarter figures for gross domestic product or GDP today.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the upper 106 yen-range on Monday.

Elsewhere in Asia, Shanghai, South Korea, Singapore, Indonesia, Taiwan are modestly higher, while New Zealand and Hong Kong are edging lower.

On Wall Street, stocks closed mixed on Friday in choppy trading following the release of a closely watched report from the Labor Department showing weaker than expected job growth in the month of August. Traders largely shrugged off comments from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, who argued the central has helped keep the economy on solid ground amid the uncertainty caused by President Donald Trump's trade war with China.

While the tech-heavy Nasdaq dipped 13.75 points or 0.2 percent to 8,103.07, the Dow rose 69.31 points or 0.3 percent to 26,797.46 and the S&P 500 inched up 2.71 points or 0.1 percent to 2,978.71.

The major European markets moved to the upside on Friday. While the German DAX Index climbed by 0.5 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index and the French CAC 40 Index both edged up by 0.2 percent.

Crude oil futures moved higher on Friday, rebounding from early losses, after a report from Baker Hughes said the oil rig count dropped for a third straight week. WTI crude for October ended up $0.22 or about 0.4 percent at $56.52 a barrel.

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