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Asian stock markets higher, Japan gains on stimulus hopes

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Asian stock markets bounced higher Wednesday, led by gains in Japan where investors were buoyed by expectations for more economic stimulus.

KEEPING SCORE: Japan’s Nikkei 225 surged 2.5 percent to 17,346.48 after sliding 4.1 percent on Tuesday amid a global market sell-off. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index added 1.5 percent to 20,858.26 and China’s Shanghai Composite Index was 0.8 percent higher at 3,061.86. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 gained 1.9 percent to 5,013.00. South Korea’s stock market finished 1 percent higher at 1,962.81.

JAPAN HOPE: Tokyo stocks gained amid expectations for more monetary and fiscal stimulus following weakness in recent economic data. Domestic demand is tepid in the world’s third-biggest economy and China’s slowdown has also crimped Japanese exports. The quarterly Tankan business confidence survey due Thursday will show how businesses are feeling about the future, possibly providing a trigger for action from policymakers.

ANALYST’S QUOTE: “Japan will be inclined to boost both fiscal and monetary stimulus soon” if the risks of a slowdown in China do not fade in a few months, Mizuho Bank said in a daily note. “The real question is not if more stimulus may be expected, but rather, how much stimulus will be rolled out, and when.”

US WATCH: Investors are waiting for jobs data and the top U.S. central banker’s remarks for clues about when the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates. Policymakers have said they will likely raise interest rates before the end of the year. On Thursday, U.S. payroll processor ADP reports how many jobs private employers added in September and Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen gives opening remarks to a community banking conference.

WALL STREET: Wall Street eked out small gains on Tuesday, helped by a rebound in health care stocks. The S&P 500 rose 0.1 percent to 1,884.09. The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 0.6 percent to 16,049.13 The Nasdaq composite dropped 0.6 percent to 4,517.32.

ENERGY: Benchmark crude fell 29 cents at $ 44.94 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 80 cents to close at $ 45.23 a barrel on Tuesday on expectations that the Energy Department will report a slowdown in U.S. crude production when it releases its monthly petroleum supply report. Brent Crude, a benchmark for international oils, dropped 14 cents to $ 48.72 a barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: The euro weakened to $ 1.1228 from $ 1.1252 in the previous global trading session. The dollar rose to 119.96 yen from 119.86 yen.

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