Asian stocks gain after Chinese assurances over slowdown


An investor walks in front of private stock trading boards at a private stock market gallery in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Monday, Oct. 22, 2018. Asian markets were mixed on Monday although Chinese benchmarks rallied after officials put a positive spin on the country’s slowing economy. (AP Photo/Yam G-Jun)

SINGAPORE (AP) — Asian markets were mostly higher Monday as Chinese benchmarks rallied after officials put a positive spin on the country's slowing economy.

KEEPING SCORE: The Shanghai Composite index jumped 4.2 percent to 2,656.87 and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong surged 2.4 percent to 267,178.16. Japan's Nikkei 225 index reversed early losses, gaining 0.6 percent to 22,659.52 and the Kospi in South Korea added 0.3 percent to 2,162.01. Australia's S&P-ASX 200 countered the trend, shedding 0.5 percent to 5,912.00. Shares rose in Taiwan, Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines.

WALL STREET: Better-than-expected earnings reports by companies such as Procter & Gamble, American Express and PayPal gave U.S. indexes an early lift on Friday. But the momentum was lost when data showed that U.S. home sales fell for the sixth month in a row. The S&P 500 index was less than 0.1 percent lower at 2,767.78. The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished 0.3 percent higher at 25,444.34, while the Nasdaq composite fell 0.5 percent to 7,449.03. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks tumbled 1.2 percent to 1,542.04, its lowest in almost six months, partly because of worries over rising interest rates.

CHINESE GROWTH: The Chinese economy grew at a 6.5 percent annual pace, its slowest since 2009 in the quarter ending in September, official data showed. Officials quickly moved to calm nerves surrounding growth that has been softening even before Washington raised tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars in Chinese goods. The Chinese stock market has sagged 30 percent since January. China's economic czar, Vice Premier Liu He, said the decline was "creating good investment opportunities" and central bank governor Yi Gang insisted that the "current economic fundamentals are good."

ANALYST'S TAKE: "Official voices pledging their support has helped to calm Chinese markets. Some investors are bargain hunting on the basis that there will be limited downsides," said Song Seng Wun, an economist at CIMB Private Banking. "There has also been a hint of state support in the aftermath, with state-linked funds coming to buy weakening markets, giving investors reason to believe that the markets would stabilize," he added.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude rose 26 cents to $69.38 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract added 0.7 percent to $69.12 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, picked up 21 cents to $79.99 per barrel. In the previous session, it gained 0.6 percent to $79.78 a barrel.

CURRENCY: The dollar strengthened to 112.62 yen from 112.56 yen on Friday. The euro fell to $1.1515 from $1.1516.