Asia stocks mostly higher after ECB stress tests
TOKYO (AP) — Asian stock markets were mostly higher Monday after largely positive results from the European Central Bank's stress tests of financial institutions. Investors also looked ahead to earnings and a meeting of the U.S. Federal Reserve.
KEEPING SCORE: Japan's Nikkei 225 stock index climbed 0.4 percent to 15,346.51 and South Korea's Kospi rose 0.4 percent to 1,932.67. Australia's S&P/ASX climbed 0.6 percent to 5,446.70. Elsewhere, Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.8 percent to 23,122.54 and shares were lower in Singapore and Indonesia. Stock benchmarks in Taiwan and the Philippines rose.
EUROPEAN TESTS: The European Central Bank said that 13 of Europe's 130 biggest banks failed an in-depth review of their finances and need an extra 10 billion euros ($12.5 billion) to cushion themselves against any future crises. The landmark review showed most of Europe's banks will be purged of bad investments and ready to lend to businesses when the economy finally picks up, the ECB said.
THE QUOTE: "The positive results of a stress test in the European banking sector over the weekend saw to less volatile conditions in Asian markets this morning," Desmond Chua, of CMC Markets, said in a commentary. "The stress tests showed healthy balance sheets in most major institutions while those found with capital gaps are mostly contained in periphery nations."
FED MEETING: The focus of investors will increasingly turn to this week's Federal Reserve policy meeting for confirmation the U.S. central bank is ending its bond buying program; the policy has kept interest rates low to support economic recovery but also boosted stock markets as investors sought higher returns. Recent mixed signals about the strength of the U.S. recovery prompted speculation the Fed might let the program continue for longer, but many analysts consider that outcome unlikely.
WALL STREET: The U.S. stock market closed out its best week in nearly two years on a positive note Friday, helped by strong quarterly earnings from Microsoft and other big U.S. companies. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 127.51 points, or 0.8 percent, to 16,805.41. The Standard & Poor's 500 index added 13.76 points, or 0.7 percent, to 1,964.58 and the Nasdaq composite rose 30.92 points, or 0.7 percent, to 4,483.72.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude was up 2 cents to $81.03 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It sank $1.08 on Friday to $81.01. Brent crude was down 17 cents at $85.96 a barrel on the ICE exchange.
CURRENCIES: The euro rose to $1.2694 from $1.2670 late Friday. The dollar fell to 107.91 yen from 108.16 yen.