The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Asian stocks mostly higher after unexpectedly strong Wall Street showing despite China jitters

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BEIJING, China - Asian stocks were mostly higher Tuesday despite jitters about China's housing market after Wall Street's unexpectedly strong showing.

Tokyo's Nikkei 225 index gained 1.2 per cent to 15,020.72 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.3 per cent to 22,456.22. Taipei, Seoul and Singapore also gained.

China's Shanghai Composite Index shed 0.1 per cent to 2,075.22. That came after increases in housing prices decelerated in January and China's yuan weakened against the dollar last week.

A decline in China's tightly controlled currency prompted suggestions China's central bank might be trying to support exporters and help offset weakening domestic demand. That came after an HSBC Corp. survey showed Chinese manufacturing activity in February tumbled to a seven-month low.

"We believe that the central bank will be accepting of some more weakness in coming days," said Credit Agricole CIB in a report.

Seoul's Kospi gained 0.7 per cent to 1,963.31 and Taiwan's Taiex gained 0.1 per cent to 8,569.49. Manila and Jakarta also rose.

Sydney's S&P/ASX 200 was flat at 5,439.80 and New Zealand declined 0.1 per cent to 5,324.88.

On Wall Street, the Standard & Poor's 500 ended up 11.36 points, or 0.6 per cent, to 1,847.61 and just short of its record close of 1,848.38 set on Jan. 15. The momentum helped the index set a new intraday high of 1,858.76 earlier in the day, however. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 103.84 points, or 0.6 per cent, to 16,207.14.

In Europe, Britain's FTSE 100 index gained 0.4 per cent and Germany's DAX was up 0.5 per cent. France's CAC-40 finished 0.9 per cent higher.

Benchmark U.S. oil for April delivery was down 27 cents to $102.50 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract gained 62 cents on Monday to close at $102.82.

In currency markets, the euro was little changed at $1.3734 from $1.3736 late Monday. The dollar rose to 102.54 yen from 102.50 yen.

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