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Market Update

Asian Markets Outside Japan Gain

Asian markets started the week on a positive note Monday after weak housing data in the U.S. last week eased some fears the Federal Reserve would start scaling back stimulus measures over the short run.

Leading the gains, China's Shanghai Composite rallied 1.9% while Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 0.6%. Mumbai's Sensex added and Sydney's S&P/ASX All Ordinaries both ended up 0.2% each.

Japan's Nikkei, which also started the session with gains, slipped into the negative zone and kept moving in and out of the positive zone throughout the day. The index closed 0.2% lower.

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 new home sales as shown by Friday's data soothed some of these speculations, as investors viewed this as a sign that the U.S. economy might still need 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., and Toshiba Corp. added around 1% and 0.5% respectively while Canon Inc. and Mazda Motor eased around 0.3% 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% in response. Larger rival PetroChina also climbed around 2% while CNOOC Ltd. edged up 0.1%.

In the financials segment, China Construction Bank Corp. added 0.7% after reporting higher first half net profit. Among others in the sector, ICBC rose 1%, Agricultural Bank enhanced 0.9% while Bank of China was also up 0.9%.

On the downside, BYD Co. Ltd. slumped over 11.5% 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 finished little changed.

Meanwhile, drilling services provider Boart Longyear swung to a loss for the six months ended June. The stock plunged nearly 12% 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 traded down around 0.2% to 0.5%. But gold miner Newcrest Mining shone bright, up 5% 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 foreign investments.

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

BHEL soared 6.6% while Sterelite Industries, NTPC, Hero MotorCorp and Wipro added around 2% to 2.5%. Sun Pharma, Dr. Reddys Lab and Hindustan Unilever were among defensive plays that ended on the positive side of the ladder -- up 1.5% to 2%.

The Indian rupee, meanwhile, opened sharply lower and breached the 64-mark against the dollar during the session.