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Asia stocks up as US small business mood improves

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 15, 2013 at 12:20 am •  Published: May 15, 2013

BANGKOK (AP) — Enthusiasm on Wall Street sparked by another positive report on the U.S. economy helped push most Asian stock markets higher Wednesday.

The National Federation of Independent Business reported a slight improvement in confidence among small business owners in the U.S. in April. That helped boost the Dow Jones industrial average to close at a record high Tuesday.

"A combination of further improvement of economic performance and low inflation in the US should keep risk appetite buoyant," said analysts at Credit Agricole CIB in Hong Kong in an email commentary.

Japan's Nikkei 225 index surged 1.9 percent to 15,041.95. Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.7 percent to 23,079.31. Benchmarks in Singapore, Taiwan, the Philippines and Indonesia also rose.

South Korea's Kospi dipped less than 0.1 percent to 1,967.92 while Australia's S&P/ASX 200 shed 0.7 percent to 5,182.50.

Good economic data aside, stocks are also benefiting from the economic stimulus from the Federal Reserve and other global central banks.

Under a program called "quantitative easing," the Fed has bought hundreds of billions of dollars of bonds, pushing up their prices and sending their yields lower. That makes stocks more attractive to investors than bonds and keeps interest rates low throughout the economy, encouraging investment and spending.

"Quantitative easing will not ease in the next two or three years," said Dickie Wong, executive director of research at Kingston Securities Ltd. in Hong Kong. "Quantitative easing is everywhere, in the U.S., Japan and Europe. Money depreciates so it gives some kind of boost to the stock market."

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