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September 24, 2017

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Asian stock markets rise on Japanese corporate earnings

HONG KONG -- Asian stock markets edged higher on Monday buoyed by strong Japanese corporate results and unperturbed by data suggesting a slow-down in Chinese manufacturing.

Japan's Nikkei index ended the day up 0.35 percent, or 33.01 points, at 9,570.31, while the Topix index of all first-section shares ended up 0.14 percent.

Sydney was up 1.07 percent, or 48.1 points, at 4,541.6, while Seoul rose 1.31 percent, or 22.94 points, at 1,782.27.

Tokyo was lifted by corporate reports on Friday showing record profits for car giant Honda and massive earnings for Hitachi. Honda jumped 4.02 percent during the day.

Japan's biggest financial groups, Mitsubishi UFJ, Mizuho and Nomura also announced healthy profits as economic recovery helped cut bad loan levels.

Toyota is among the big hitters to report later this week. An industry group, the Japan Automobile Dealers Association, said the company had seen its domestic sales rise 19.1 percent year-on-year in July.

Shanghai closed 1.33 percent higher, adding 35.01 points, to end at 2,672.52 and Hong Kong jumped 1.82 percent, or 382.98 points to 21,412.79 as surveys out of China showed manufacturing slowing down or contracting.

"China is slowing down on property measures, but the situation is not as dire as some had expected. We don't think the current situation warrants an all-out fight to rescue growth," said Bank of America-Merrill Lynch in a report.

"Beijing will surely ramp up spending on public housing and other public works to stabilise growth."

On Sunday the official China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing showed that manufacturing activity had slowed in July, although it remained in positive territory with a reading of 51.2 — for an overall decline it would have to be below 50.

On Monday an HSBC China Manufacturing PMI, or purchasing managers' index, suggested a contraction in July, with a reading of 49.4.

But analysts attributed some of the slowing to heavy rains and flooding in July and suggested China was simply on course for a more sustainable level of growth.

The Dow provided a weak lead Friday, closing flat after government data showed a slowdown in the US economic recovery. The Commerce Department reported that growth had declined to 2.4 percent in the second quarter from a upwardly revised 3.7 percent in the first three months of the year.

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