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May 30, 2017

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Asia stocks mostly rise due to global growth optimism

TOKYO/HONG KONG--Renewed optimism about the global economy helped push most Asian stock markets higher Tuesday.

Since late last week, investors have digested a raft of positive news from major economies: additional monetary stimulus in Europe, a solid U.S. jobs report for May, stronger first quarter growth in Japan and an improvement in China's exports.

Indications that the U.S. economy is on a roll this quarter after a bumpy start to the year have helped push American stock benchmarks higher for the past month.

In Europe, Britain's FTSE 100 rose 0.2 percent to close at 6,875 on Monday while Germany's DAX advanced 0.2 percent to 10,008.63, a record closing high. The CAC-40 in France added 0.2 percent to 4,589.12.

In the U.S., the Standard & Poor's 500 closed at another all-time high, rising 1.83 points, or less than 0.1 percent, to 1,951.27.

The S&P 500 has been on a steady climb for three weeks, lifting the benchmark for most investment funds by 4 percent the last month.

Asian markets were mostly higher on Tuesday following fresh records on Wall Street, while Shanghai and Hong Kong rose after data showed Chinese inflation surged in May.

Tokyo fell 0.85 percent, or 129.20 points, to finish at 14,994.80 owing to a weaker yen, but Seoul surged 1.09 percent, or 21.76 points, to 2,011.80 and Sydney edged up 0.1 percent, or 5.67 points, to close at 5,469.7.

Shanghai rallied 1.08 percent, or 22.03 points, to 2,052.53 and Hong Kong rose 0.86 percent, or 198.27 points, to 23,315.74.

The Dow rose 0.11 percent to its third straight record close on Monday, while the S&P 500 inched up 0.09 percent, hitting an all-time high for the fourth straight session. The Nasdaq added 0.34 percent.

Hong Kong and Shanghai jumped as dealers welcomed figures showing Chinese consumer prices rose by 2.5 percent in May, the highest since January, alleviating residual fears that the world's second-biggest economy could slip into deflation.

However, inflation is still well below the government's target of 3.5 percent for 2014, and the latest reading will not be enough to quell calls for Beijing to introduce easing measures to boost the economy.

Help from China's Central Bank

Adding to buying sentiment was the announcement Monday by the People's Bank of China (PBoC) of a cut in the amount of cash that some smaller lenders must keep with the central bank — the reserve requirement ratio — as part of a limited stimulus to boost spending.

However, the PBoC signaled no significant policy loosening is in the pipeline, despite some calls for more forceful relaxation.

BOC International analyst Zhang Yuheng told Dow Jones Newswires: "The economy would have to deteriorate further in order to warrant a cut impacting all banks."

Gold fetched US$1,253.19 an ounce at 1050 GMT compared with US$1,255.94 late Monday.

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