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Asia stocks up on stimulus

BEIJING/HONG KONG--European shares drifted lower Monday as tensions over Ukraine simmered while Asian stock markets mostly rose on expectations of stimulus in China after manufacturing growth slowed in August.

In morning trading, France's CAC-40 was down 0.3 percent at 4,369.03 and Germany's DAX was off 0.1 percent at 9,463.43. Britain's FTSE 100 shed 0.2 percent to 6,809.67. Wall Street is closed Monday for the Labor Day holiday. On Friday, the S&P rose 0.3 percent after delivering its fourth record high in five day.

Two prominent U.S. senators said Sunday that the Obama administration should push for tougher sanctions on Russia, which is accused of supporting pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, and also send weapons to help Ukraine defend itself. The rebels have renewed their offensive in the past week, reclaiming parts of areas they'd previously ceded in fighting with Ukrainian troops and opening up an additional front.

The manufacturing slowdown adds to signs that China's “economy still faces considerable downside risks to growth in the second half of the year, which warrant further policy easing to ensure a steady growth recovery,” said HSBC economist Hongbin Qu.

Investors looked ahead to Thursday's meeting of the European Central Bank (ECB) for signs of possible stimulus. Bank chief Mario Draghi called in a speech last month for fiscal policies to support growth, a departure from the ECB's implicit support for austerity. No immediate steps were expected but the bank has begun work on a program to buy asset-backed securities.

The latest update on the labor market due out Friday is expected to show relatively firm conditions. Investor confidence has risen following several months of strong growth in hiring and corporate profits and a series of major corporate acquisitions.

Tokyo closed up 0.34 percent, or 52.01 points, at 15,476.60 and Sydney ended slightly higher, adding 3.9 points to 5,629.8.

Shanghai jumped 0.83 percent, or 18.31 points, to 2,235.51 while Hong Kong was slightly higher, adding 10.03 points to 24,752.09.

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