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Asian stocks gain as China’s new lending surges

Asian stocks gain as China’s new lending surges

Asian stocks gained on Monday in late morning trade after China’s new credit increased to a record in January, boosting optimism the world’s second-largest economy can maintain its growth momentum.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index added 0.7% to 136 as of 11:24 a.m. in Tokyo. South Korea’s Kospi index increased 0.3%. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index advanced 0.4%, while New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index added 0.2%. Singapore’s Straits Times Index climbed 0.7%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index jumped 1.1%, and China’s Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.3%.

However, Japanese stocks struggled with both a stronger yen and a surprisingly weak reading on economic growth. The Nikkei slipped 0.4% as the US dollar a third of a yen to 101.47. Japan’s Topix index added 0.3% after falling as much as 1% earlier.

Japanese gross domestic product expanded an annualised 1% from the previous quarter, the Cabinet Office said in Tokyo today, underscoring risks to the recovery as a sales-tax increase looms in April.

In China, aggregate financing, the broadest measure of credit in the world’s second-biggest economy, was 2.58 trillion yuan ($425 billion) last month, the People’s Bank of China said in on Friday. The figure contrast with a central bank call last month for lenders to control surging loans and highlight diminishing economic returns from credit growth.

In corporate news, Rio Tinto Group (RIO) rose 2.2% in Sydney. Newcrest Mining Ltd. advanced 3.5% as bullion prices rose to a three-month high.

Rakuten Inc. fell 8.7% in Tokyo after announcing plans buy the Viber Internet messaging and calling service for $900 million.

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