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Asia stocks gain on Bernanke comments, weaker yen

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 14, 2013 at 9:12 pm •  Published: January 14, 2013

BANGKOK (AP) — Asian stocks posted modest gains Tuesday after Fed chief Ben Bernanke said the central bank's bond buying is providing crucial support for the U.S. economy, suggesting it will continue despite divisions with the Fed.

The Nikkei 225 in Tokyo, meanwhile, reached its highest intraday level in more than nine months as investors scooped up shares amid a weaker yen and major stimulus measures from the new government to help Japan's struggling economy.

The Nikkei rose 1.3 percent to 10,936.14. Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.1 percent to 23,443.35. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 added 0.2 percent to 4,726.60. South Korea's Kospi fell 0.5 percent to 1,997.15.

In a speech in the U.S. on Monday, Bernanke said the U.S. Federal Reserve's bond-buying program, dubbed quantitative easing, was providing key support for the economy and made no mention of winding the program down, even though some Fed officials recently said they favor doing that.

The U.S. central bank has been buying $85 billion a month in Treasurys and mortgage bonds to try to keep borrowing costs low and encourage more spending.

Analysts at Credit Agricole CIB in Hong Kong said in an email commentary that markets found some relief in Bernanke's speech as it did not repeat the views of some Fed officials in hinting at an early ending of quantitative easing.

This week, investors will assess a slew of data for signs of growth in the U.S. and China, the world's two largest economies. Retail sales in the U.S. for December are due later Tuesday, as are quarterly earnings from big U.S. banks including JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and Bank of America.

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