Most Asian Stocks Gain as China, Japan Extend Seven-Year Highs

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Most Asian stocks rose, with indexes in Japan and China closing at the highest in more than seven years.

Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing Ltd. jumped 5.4 percent to a record amid optimism that China’s steps to open its capital markets will spur higher trading volume across the border. Nippon Paper Industries Co. climbed 3.5 percent after announcing a target to double operating profit in three years. Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. rallied 11 percent in Sydney after a report speculated the iron ore-producer may receive investment from Chinese companies. Belle International Holdings Ltd. fell 5.9 percent in Hong Kong before announcing earnings.

China’s Shanghai Composite Index surged 2 percent and Japan’s Topix index advanced for an eighth day. Weighed down by a strengthening greenback, the dollar-denominated MSCI Asia Pacific Index retreated 0.3 percent to 153.48 as of 5:17 p.m. in Tokyo. The euro slid as wrangling over Greece’s aid negotiations continued, while investors awaited U.S. durable-goods data after last week’s reading on inflation was stronger than expected.

“All eyes on Greece and U.S. data,” said Kay Van-Petersen, a strategist at Saxo Capital Markets in Singapore. “Every data point counts now in the U.S., no matter how small. Investors are looking for every sign that the first quarter weakness was a one-off.”

The Shanghai Composite closed at the highest since January 2008, extending its advance over the past year to 140 percent in the past year amid speculation the government will accelerate measures to bolster the economy.

Japan Futures

The Topix added less than 0.1 percent, extending a 7 1/2-year high. After the cash market closed, futures on the Nikkei 225 Stock Average climbed as the yen weakened to its lowest per dollar since 2007.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index rose 0.9 percent and the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index of mainland firms traded in the city advanced 2.6 percent as the market reopened from a holiday.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index gained 0.9 percent, while New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index rose less than 0.1 percent. South Korea’s Kospi index fell 0.1 percent.

Singapore’s Straits Times Index was little changed. The city-state’s economy expanded an annualized 3.2 percent in the first quarter, according to a final government estimate. That was faster than the preliminary reading of 1.1 percent.

Europe’s currency dropped ahead of meetings where Greek officials will try to revive their bid to access financial aid. Finance minister Yanis Varoufakis has blamed creditors’ insistence on more austerity for the impasse.

While Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s spokesman Gabriel Sakellaridis said Monday that a deal can be reached by the end of May, he admitted that disagreements remain in areas such as budget targets, sales-tax rates, pension and labor market rules.

E-mini futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index fell 0.4 percent from their close on Friday. Markets in the U.S. were shut on Monday for Memorial Day.

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