Asia stocks up on China output as Syria fears fade

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Associated Press

Posted on September 2, 2013 at 9:01 AM

Updated Tuesday, Sep 3 at 12:06 AM

BANGKOK (AP) — Asian stock markets advanced Tuesday after the likelihood of an imminent, U.S.-led attack against Syria faded and manufacturing rebounded in China.

President Barack Obama has faced difficulty trying to amass support for U.S. military intervention in Syria, where an alleged chemical attack by government forces killed scores of civilians outside of Damascus. Britain's parliament voted against involvement, and Russia and China have been critical of the idea.

Obama announced over the weekend that he would seek approval from Congress for military strikes, but he faced skepticism among many U.S. lawmakers about the intelligence regarding the chemical attack and the value of an intervention to United States interests.

"To be sure, a Syria strike no longer being imminent is reason for relief; but that does not mean that Syria has dropped off the geo-politics radar," said Vishnu Varathan of Mizuho Bank Ltd. in Singapore.

Japan's Nikkei 225 index jumped 2.5 percent to 13,917.64. South Korea's Kospi rose 0.7 percent to 1,936.86. Australia's S&P ASX/200 added 0.2 percent to 5,198.90. Hong Kong's Hang Seng advanced 1 percent to 22,384.67.

Sentiment was boosted Monday by two surveys that showed China's manufacturing sector improved last month after prolonged weakness.

The HSBC purchasing managers' index rose to 50.1 points in August, a level that indicates expansion as output and new orders edged up slightly and order backlogs rose at the fastest pace in two years. The official China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing PMI rose to 51.0 from July's 50.3, which was the highest level and biggest increase this year.

Both indexes use a 100-point scale on which numbers below 50 indicate a contraction.

Traders will be waiting for Wall Street to reopen later Tuesday after a three-day Labor Day weekend as well as the latest data from the Institute for Supply Management on U.S. manufacturing for August.

On Monday, Britain's FTSE 100 gained 1.5 percent to close at 6,506.19, thanks to cellphone company Vodafone, which said it was with in talks with Verizon to sell its U.S. mobile business. Confirmation of the $130 billion deal came after trading in London had finished for the day, but Vodafone's shares closed up 3.4 percent on expectations of the purchase.

Germany's DAX index ended the day up 1.7 percent to 8,243.87 while France's CAC-40 jumped 1.8 percent to 4,006.01. Italian and Spanish stocks were also up after surveys showed manufacturing activity rose in the two countries, which are in recession and have been focal points of Europe's debt crisis.

Benchmark crude for October delivery was down $1.01 to $106.64 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange as fears of military strikes on Syria continued to fade. The contract fell $1.15 to close at $107.65 on Friday.

In currencies, the euro rose slightly to $1.3189 from $1.3187 late Monday. The dollar fell to 99.31 yen from 99.56 yen.

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Follow Pamela Sampson on Twitter at http://twitter.com/pamelasampson

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