Asia stocks mostly higher, wages data boosts Japan

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

TOKYO (AP) — Asian stocks were mostly higher Tuesday after a jump in average wages boosted Japan's market. Hong Kong's benchmark was recovering after initially retreating on weak Chinese data and concerns over tensions with Beijing.

KEEPING SCORE: Japan's Nikkei 225 gained 1.5 percent to 15,703.50 while Hong Kong's Hang Seng slipped 0.2 percent to 24,700.94. China's Shanghai Composite was up 0.9 percent at 2,255.62 and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 added 0.4 percent to 5,649.50. Southeast Asian stock markets rose while South Korea's Kospi dropped 0.7 percent to 2,052.63. Wall Street was closed Monday for a public holiday.

WAGES BOOST: Japan's government reported that average wages rose 2.6 percent in July from a year earlier, mostly helped by bonus payments. Increases in household incomes are a crucial part of Japan's economic revival strategy and the July figures are a rare positive development on that front.

CHINA CHILL: Indicators such as power generation, steel output and property sales point to continued weakness in the world's No. 2 economy, which has raised expectations of additional stimulus and boosted Chinese stocks. But Hong Kong, which has heavy exposure to the troubled Chinese property market, was lower. It also has been shaken by rising friction between China's communist leaders and local protesters demanding a direct say in the choice of Hong Kong's leader.

THE QUOTE: "We still expect China's overall economy to cool toward the year's end, and to stay weak through 2015," says Wang Tao, an economist at UBS in Hong Kong.

U.S. ECONOMY: Traders will be focusing on the U.S. employment report for August due Friday. Investor confidence over the U.S. economy has risen following several months of strong growth in hiring and corporate profits and a series of major corporate acquisitions. U.S. shares looked headed for an upbeat start to the week, with both Dow and S & P futures up 0.1 percent.

CURRENCIES: The Ukraine crisis and weak European economic data have combined to hurt the euro, taking it to a near year-low of $1.3119 on Monday. On Tuesday, the euro was trading at $1.3123, down from $1.3132 late Monday. The dollar rose to 104.83 yen from 104.35 yen.

ENERGY MARKETS: U.S. benchmark crude for October delivery was down 22 cents at $95.74 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It gained $1.41 on Monday to $95.96.