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Market Update

Asian Stocks Gain; Shrug Off Weak Data

Asian bourses opened in the green Monday as investors chose to ignore some weak data points from China, with last weekend's strong performance on Wall Street spurring optimism.

The Shanghai Composite gained 0.9%, the Hang Seng and the S&P/ASX All Ordinaries rose 1% each while the Sensex edged up 0.1% in early trades.

Japanese markets remained closed for a public holiday.

A strong rally on Wall Street last Friday after U.S. jobs data topped estimates helped investors shrug off some tepid economic reports from the region.

The HSBC flash reading of China's services purchasing managers' index came in at 51.1 in April, down from 54.3 in March, indicating growth in the country's services sector slowed down considerably to its lowest level in more than two years.

New order expansion was the slowest in nearly 20 months while staffing levels in the service sector also dropped for the first time since January 2009.

In a separate report, official data released by the Australian government showed retail sales in the country declined unexpectedly last month. Retail sales fell 0.4% in March, as compared with a gain of 1.3% in February.

Stocks on the move

Commodity-linked stocks paced the gains in Hong Kong. Jiangxi Copper Co. soared nearly 5.5% while Angang Steel rose 2% and Aluminum Corp. of China gained around 1.5%.

Among oil stocks, CNOOC added 1.7%, PetroChina enhanced over 2% while China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. rose 1.7%.

In corporate news, Galaxy Entertainment said it would purchase $419 million worth assets in Macau's Cotai from Get Nice Holdings Ltd. Shares of Galaxy were up 3.4% while Get Nice Holdings Ltd. surged more than 15% on heels of the news.

In Australia, mining stocks logged strong gains on the back of higher commodity prices. Top miner BHP Billiton rose 2.8% while close-rival Rio Tinto gained 3.3%. Fortescue Metals Group jumped 5%.

Among energy stocks, Karoon Gas Australia bounced nearly 20% after the company reported a new oil discovery offshore Brazil.

On the earnings front, Orica Ltd. added 1.5% after its first-half profit climbed and after the company said it expected higher annual earnings this fiscal year.

Metal players in Mumbai were also in the lead. Sterlite Industries added 2.1%, Hindalco Industries and Tata Steel were up 2% each too.

IT firms were among other top gainers -- TCS, Infosys and Wipro gained around 1.5% to 2%.

On the flipside, however, banks underplayed, offsetting some of these gains. HDFC Bank eased 1.4%, ICICI Bank lost 1.3% while SBI gave up around a percent.