Japan leads Asian stock markets higher after US rebound, China growth figures eyed


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Asian stock markets rose Monday, led by a 4 percent surge in Japan, after Wall Street's rebound eased nerves about the outlook for the world economy and investors looked ahead to a report on China's economic growth. European shares wilted amid gloom about prospects for the region's economy.

KEEPING SCORE: Japan's Nikkei 225 soared 4 percent to 15,083.91, helped by exporter stocks as the dollar resumed its rise against the yen and a report the Government Pension Fund will increase its domestic equity holdings to 25 percent from 12 percent. South Korea's Kospi was up 1.6 percent at 1,930.06 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 0.2 percent to 23,070.26. Markets faded in Europe with Britain's FTSE 100 down 0.5 percent at 6,280.71. Germany's DAX dropped 1 percent to 8,767.14. But futures augured gains on Wall Street. Dow and S&P 500 futures were both up 0.3 percent.

THE QUOTE: "After a sharp pullback recently, investors appear to be regaining confidence that we may have seen a bottom for now," said IG strategist Stan Shamu. "Sentiment is vastly improved from the carnage we saw last week and some positives are beginning to emerge."

CHINA ECONOMY: China, the world's No. 2 economy, is expected to release third quarter growth figures Tuesday that might be the weakest in five years. Some analysts predict the economy expanded 7.2 percent from a year earlier, slowing from 7.5 percent in the second quarter. The report will update views on prospects for the global economy at a time when Europe is flirting with recession again and doubts remain about the U.S. recovery. "China's GDP could be a win-win.," said IG strategist Stan Shamu. "If the number misses, there'll be calls for stimulus. If the number impresses, markets will feel things are not as bad."

FUEL RELIEF: The sharp drop last week in oil prices is relieving pressure on some Asian economies that rely on imported fuel by making it easier to withdraw budget draining subsidies. India lifted government controls on diesel prices on the weekend; almost half the country's $23 billion spent on fuel subsidies last year went for diesel. Indonesia's new president, who is inaugurated Monday, is likely to face less of a backlash if he pushes ahead with fuel subsidy cuts while the cost of imported oil is lower.

WALL STREET: Investors rallied behind a group of corporate earnings results on Friday. General Electric rose 2.4 percent after its third-quarter earnings were better than expected, helped by improved performances at its aviation and oil and gas businesses. The Dow advanced 263.17 points, or 1.6 percent, to 16,380.41, its second-best day of the year. The Standard & Poor's 500 rose 24 points, or 1.3 percent, to 1,886.76 and the Nasdaq composite rose 41.05 points, or 1 percent, to 4,258.44.

ENERGY: Oil prices steadied after last week's dramatic slide. Benchmark U.S. crude was up 34 cents at $83.09 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 5 cents to close at $82.75 a barrel on Friday. Brent crude was down 25 cents at $85.92 a barrel.

CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 107.13 yen from 106.92 yen on Friday. The euro was little changed at $1.2759 from $1.2760.

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