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Market Update

Asian Stocks Start Higher

Asian markets started the week on a positive note Monday after weak housing data in the U.S. last week eased some fears the U.S. central bank would trim stimulus measures next month.

Leading the gains, China's Shanghai Composite rallied 1.4% while Hong Kong's Hang Seng and Mumbai's Sensex both added 0.9% each while Sydney's S&P/ASX All Ordinaries added 0.3% at 9:40 a.m. Indian Standard Time.

Japan's Nikkei, which also started the session with gains, slipped into the negative zone but soon recovered the losses, and was trading near the flatline at the time of writing.

Data released in the U.S. on Friday showed a slump in new home sales in the month of July. Investors had been speculating that the Federal Reserve might start scaling back its monthly asset purchase program aimed at stimulating economic growth as soon as next month if data continues to prove that the country is back on track to strong economic growth.

But the plunge in housing sales as shown by Friday's data soothed some of these speculations, as this could be a sign that the U.S. economy still needs some more stimulus to keep up the growth momentum.

Stocks on the Move

Tokyo-listed exporters divereged as the dollar wavered between small gains and losses against major peers, including the yen.

Nintendo Co., Komatsu Ltd. and Toshiba Corp. added around 1.5% each while Panasonic Corp., Canon Inc. and Sharp Corp. eased around 0.4% each.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. fell nearly 7% amid concerns over water leakage at Fukushima nuclear power plant.

Some earnings were in focus in Hong Kong. China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. reported a 24% hike in first half net profit. Shares of the oil company were up 2.7% in response. Larger rival PetroChina also climbed over 2% while CNOOC Ltd. edged up 0.6%.

In the financials segment, China Construction Bank Corp. added over a 1% after reporting higher first half net profit. Among others in the sector, ICBC rose 1.4%, Agricultural Bank enhanced 1.8% while Bank of China was also up 1.8%.

On the downside, BYD Co. Ltd. slumped over 6% despite posting upbeat first half results as the Chinese battery and car manufacturer said it expected a weak third-quarter.

Australia's largest oil refiner Caltex Australia reported a drop in its first half profit citing sharp declines in the domestic currency and  production outages at its plants as the main reason. Shares of Caltex slipped 0.7%.

Meanwhile, drilling services provider Boart Longyear swung to a loss for the six months ended June. The stock plunged more than 8% even as the company said it axed thousands of jobs to stay afloat and said it would not pay an interim dividend to shareholders.

Miners were listless -- BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals Group were trading down around 0.2% to 0.5%. But gold miner Newcrest Mining was shining bright, up 5.7% as gold prices climbed the $1400-per-ounce mark last week.

In Mumbai, stocks continued their uptick for the third consecutive session after recent sharp declines amid speculation the government would initiate measures to attract more foreign investments.

Top gainers on the 30-share benchmark index were metal players, capital goods stocks, IT firms, and pharma giants.

Sterlite Industries, BHEL and Wipro enhanced around 3% each while Tata Power, Hero MotoCorp. and Coal India gained around 2% to to 2.5%.

The Indian rupee, meanwhile, opened sharply lower and was trading around 63.89 against the dollar in early trades.