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Market Update

Asian Markets Climb Despite Weak Japan Data

Asian stocks notched higher Monday despite disappointing Japanese growth data, after a positive finish for Wall Street equities on Friday buoyed sentiment.

The Nikkei gained 0.4% at 12:30 p.m Tokyo time. The Shanghai Composite gained 0.5% while the Hang Seng rose 0.9%.

The Sensex enhanced 0.9% and the All Ordinaries improved 0.4%.

U.S. stocks ended with gains on Friday following some domestic economic reports. That optimism continued to brush on investors in the side of the world, as they chose to ignore dismal economic news from Japan.

Official data released earlier in the day, Japanese economy posted a seasonal adjusted growth of 0.3% in October-December, unchanged from the growth rate in the previous quarter. The results came in lower than what analysts were expecting, and also below the 1.2% and 1% growth recorded in the first and second quarters of 2013.

Other data released in China on Saturday showed the country's financial institutions issued 1.32 trillion yuan ($218 billion) of new yuan loans in January, up from 482.5 billion yuan in December.

Stocks on the Move

In Tokyo, exporters were trading mixed. Panasonic Corp. lost over 2% while Sumco Corp. tumbled more than 5%.

But Toshiba Corp. climbed 2.6% and Nissan Motor accelerated 1.8%, offsetting some of the losses in the segment.

Top brokerage houses Daiwa Securities and Nomura Holdings added around 2% each while retailers and utilities also found support as investors sought defensive picks.

In Hong Kong, lenders gained ground after positive credit data. ICBC rose 1.3% and so did China Construction Bank.

Insurance companies soared with China Life Insurance bouncing 6.5% while Ping An Insurance surged over 4%. China Pacific Insurance was up 3.1%.

Metal players were among other strong gainers in Hong Kong.

Sydney-listed Aurizon Holdings was up 1.6% even after the rail-freight operator reported lower fiscal first-half profit.

Bendigo and Adelaide Bank Ltd. edged up 0.9% despite reporting a fall in first half-profit as the bank maintained a stable outlook on account of improved cash earnings.

But UGL Ltd. plunged nearly 13% after reporting results and as the company said it has received takeover offers for its DTZ property business.

Sector-wise, the resources segment was the top performer with miners pacing the gains. Rio Tinto rose 2.4% while Fortescue Metals Group climbed 2.1%. Gold miner Newcrest Mining was around 4% brighter.

Stocks were up in Mumbai in line with global cues albeit in cautious range ahead of the interim budget. Finance minister P. Chidambaram was expected to present the interim budget for  2014-15 in the parliament at 11:00 a.m. IST today.

Gainers on the 30-share benchmark index included defensive picks and banks.

Among the leaders, Tata Power was up 2.6%; Dr. Reddys Lab added 1.8%; Axis Bank and HDFC climbed 1% and Infosys added  0.8%.