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Asian Stocks Rise With Oil, Dollar Weakens

Asian stocks advanced and crude oil climbed on the first full trading day of the New Year as a private factory gauge indicated strength in China’s economy. The dollar fell against most of its peers, paring some gains that have been spurred by the prospect of higher U.S. interest rates.

Australia’s benchmark index touched the highest level in 1 1/2 years and the MSCI Asia Pacific Index excluding Japan was at its highest in more than two weeks. Oil traded above $54 a barrel as OPEC member Kuwait cut output. The New Zealand and Australian currencies were among the leading gainers versus the dollar. The yen and euro also appreciated. Gold advanced for a fifth time in six sessions.

Reports on Sunday showed China’s official factory gauge stabilized near a post-2012 high while services remained robust, capping a year of steady improvement in both indicators. A private factory gauge released Tuesday also came in better than anticipated. Swaps contracts show the Federal Reserve is expected to raise interest rates twice this year, after increasing them once in each of the past two years.

The dollar weakened as traders awaited key U.S. reports this week for further evidence the world’s largest economy is strong enough to withstand higher borrowing costs. The Bloomberg Dollar index closed 2016 with its strongest quarterly rally since 2008 as 10-year Treasuries offered the highest yields since 1999 relative to Group-of-Seven peers.

Stocks

· The MSCI Asia Pacific excluding Japan Index climbed 0.6 percent in a sixth day of gains as of 2:23 p.m. in Singapore, heading for the longest winning streak since September.

· The Shanghai Composite Index added 0.9 percent, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index added 0.7 percent and South Korea’s Kospi jumped 0.9 percent, the most since Dec. 8.

· Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 1.2 percent, advancing for the third time in four trading days.

· India’s S&P BSE Sensex gained 0.3 percent, led by utilities and consumer companies.

· Financial markets in Japan, New Zealand and Thailand were closed for a bank holiday.

· U.S. markets were closed Monday. The S&P 500 fell 0.5 percent last Friday to end the year at 2,238.83, the lowest since Dec 7.

Currencies

· The dollar was down 0.2 percent at 117.36 yen after rising 0.5 percent Monday.

· The euro jumped 0.3 percent and the Aussie and kiwi were both up 0.6 percent.

· Korea’s won rose 0.4 percent, while Malaysia’s ringgit was down 0.2% at the weakest since 1998. The Taiwanese dollar erased losses to trade up 0.2 percent.

· The U.S. currency has climbed against eight of 16 major developed and emerging market peers since Dec. 30.

Commodities

· Crude oil rose 0.6 percent to $54.02 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, close to the $54.51 it reached on Dec. 12, which was its highest level since July 2015.

· Gold climbed 0.9 percent to $1,157.54, advancing for the fifth time in the past six trading sessions.

Aluminum added 0.1 percent to $1,694 per metric ton on the London Metal Exchange, while nickel jumped 2 percent to $10,220 a ton.

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