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Asian shares gain on growing hopes of China stimulus

Asian shares gained on Monday led by consumer stocks rose in a cautious start to the week with investors holding out hopes that China would take steps to stimulate its economy.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index surged 0.4% to 137 as of 10:54 a.m. in Tokyo. Japan’s Topix index added 0.3% as the yen held last week’s losses versus the dollar and even as data showed industrial production unexpectedly declined 2.3% in February from January.

South Korea’s Kospi index was little changed as North Korea said it may conduct a “new form” of nuclear test if the US challenges its efforts to enhance deterrence through military drills.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 0.8% and New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index slid 0.1%. Taiwan’s Taiex index was little changed and Singapore’s Straits Times Index added 0.3%.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index rose less than 0.1%, while the Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.2%.

Stock markets declined last week as investors weighed the crisis in Ukraine. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen speaks in Chicago today as investors await payrolls data due later in the week to assess the outlook for U.S. interest rates.

An official purchasing managers’ index of Chinese manufacturing due tomorrow is estimated to drop to 50.1 for March from 50.2 in February, a Bloomberg survey of economists shows.

In corporate news, Eclat Textile Co. rose 6.8% in Taiwan, the most among the MSCI Asia Pacific Index group tracking consumer discretionary shares.

China Construction Bank Corp., the nation’s second-largest lender by market value, surged 1.1% after posting profit growth that beat expectations.

Mazda Motor Corp., a Japanese automaker that gets about 30% of its revenue in North America, gained 3.6%.

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