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Asian stocks muted as improved US services data competes with worries over China, Ukraine

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BEIJING, China - Asian stocks were kept in check Tuesday as improvement in U.S. service industries competed with concern about disappointing Chinese manufacturing and anxiety over Ukraine.

Oil declined but stayed above $99 after Ukrainian soldiers fought with a pro-Russia militia occupying an eastern city.

China's benchmark Shanghai Composite Index was up 0.2 per cent at 2,030.79 after April manufacturing, reported Monday, fell short of expectations. Taiwan's Taiex added 0.2 per cent to 8,885.18.

Singapore and Jakarta rose while New Zealand fell. Tokyo, Hong Kong and Seoul were closed for holidays.

Sentiment was supported by a report from a U.S. trade group that activity in the country's service industries grew at its fastest rate in eight months in April.

"This continues the recent trend of positive US data, suggesting the economy is entering into a robust growth patch," said Mizuho Bank in a report.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 was up 0.2 per cent at 5,473.

In Europe, Germany's DAX closed down 0.3 per cent on Monday while France's CAC 40 added 0.1 per cent.

On Wall Street, the Standard & Poor's 500 gained 3.52 points, or 0.2 per cent, to 1,884.66 after the Institute for Supply Management's service-sector index rose to 55.2 in April from March's 53.1. A reading above 50 indicates expansion.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 17.66 points, or 0.1 per cent, to 16,530.55. The Nasdaq composite rose 14.16 points, or 0.3 per cent, to 4,138.06.

In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude for June delivery shed 7 cents to $99.41 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 28 cents on Monday to settle at $99.48.

The euro rose to $1.3879 from $1.3877 late Monday. The dollar fell to 102.06 yen from 102.11 yen.

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