Asian stocks rise as China rate hike fears fizzle

FILE – In this file photo taken Dec. 7, 2010, specialist Patrick Murphy, foreground left, directs trading in shares of Citigroup at the close of trading on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, file)

TOKYO (AP) — Asian shares rose Monday, with Chinese and Hong Kong markets benefiting from relief that Beijing refrained from raising interest rates over the weekend.

Other markets around the region were more subdued. Japan’s Nikkei 225 stock average rose 0.1 percent to 10,226.64, and South Korea’s Kospi added less than 0.1 percent to 1,987.03. Australia’s SP/ASX 200 climbed 0.5 percent to 4,769.10 as investors bought banking shares.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index rose 0.7 percent to 23,322.22, while the Shanghai Composite index jumped 1.2 percent to 2,873.43.

Investors had been worried last week that China’s central bank would raise interest rates. Instead, China’s leaders wrapped up an annual economic planning meeting Sunday with a pledge to control inflation while shifting the economy toward more stable, balanced growth.

The vow to keep the world’s No. 2 economy on an even keel came a day after the government reported that inflation jumped to a 28-month high of 5.1 percent in November. On Friday, China ordered banks to increase their reserves by 0.5 percent of deposits to help curb surging lending.

In New York Friday, an encouraging trade report and signs that a tax cut package would pass the Senate sent U.S. stocks to their highest levels in two years. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 40.26, or 0.4 percent, to 11,410.32.

In currencies, the euro fell to $1.3194 from $1.3226 late Friday in New York. The dollar rose to 84 yen from 83.91 yen.

Benchmark crude for January delivery was up 33 cents at $88.12 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract lost 58 cents to settle at $87.79 on Friday.

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