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Asian stocks rebound after Portuguese bank scare; investors look ahead to US, China data

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BEIJING, China - Asian stocks rebounded Monday from jitters about a struggling Portuguese bank as investors looked ahead to a busy week of data releases in the U.S., China and Europe.

Oil edged up to stay above $100 after tumbling more than $2 last week amid expectations more Libyan crude will soon hit markets.

Tokyo's Nikkei 225 gained 0.4 per cent to 15,219.59 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 0.4 per cent to 23,326.78. Seoul, Taiwan and Sydney also rose.

Traders regained confidence following concern about the soundness of Portugal's Espirito Santo International, which reportedly missed a debt payment last week, echoing issues that spawned Europe's debt crisis. Investors appeared to have been reassured any problems would be contained.

"Concerns about a widespread spill-over across Europe eased," said Mizuho Bank in a report. "Sentiment improved across the board."

China's Shanghai Composite Index was flat at 2,047.98.

Investors were looking ahead to announcements Tuesday about monetary policy in Australia and Japan and European inflation. U.S. Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen is due to testify before a congressional committee.

On Wednesday, China is due to report quarterly economic growth. The country's top economic official, Premier Li Keqiang, said last week performance improved compared with the first quarter, when growth tumbled to 7.4 per cent, but gave no details.

Seoul's Kospi gained 0.5 per cent to 1,998.32 and Taiwan's Taiex added 0.5 per cent to 9,545.99. Sydney's S&P ASX 200 rose 0.4 per cent to 5,511.70. New Zealand also gained.

Last week, Germany's DAX and Britain's FTSE 100 ended 0.1 per cent higher while France's CAC-40 gained 0.4 per cent.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average and the broader Standard & Poor's 500 both gained 0.2 per cent. The Nasdaq composite was up 0.4 per cent.

Benchmark U.S. crude for August delivery gained 1 cent to $100.84 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract plunged $2.10 to close at $100.83 in the previous session on expectations of higher supplies and muted global demand.

In currency markets, the dollar rose to 101.37 yen from 101.32 yen late Friday. The euro fell to $1.3603 from $1.3608.

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