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Asian stock markets rise after China announces its spending priorities for the year

BANGKOK – Asian stock markets rose Tuesday as investors registered approval for China’s spending priorities announced at its annual congress.

Markets in Hong Kong and mainland China drew encouragement from a speech by outgoing Premier Wen Jiabao and presentation of the country’s budget at the opening of the annual National People’s Congress, a largely ceremonial legislature.

Wen promised deficit spending to meet a growth target this year of 7.5 per cent that is enshrined in the ruling Communist Party’s latest five-year development plan. Wen mentioned subsidies to agriculture and energy conservation and said the country was committed to fighting corruption and improving the environment.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 0.2 per cent to 22,572.15. The mainland’s Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.4 per cent to 2,281.44. The Shenzhen Composite Index added 0.2 per cent to 945.

Stocks in Tokyo rose on hopes that the Bank of Japan, which begins a two-day meeting on Wednesday, might demonstrate a shift in monetary policy to conform to the program championed by new Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The Nikkei 225 index advanced 0.7 per cent to 11,734.79.

Wall Street stocks finished higher Monday as investors put aside the uncertainty over a budget battle in Washington. President Barack Obama and his political opponents have failed so far to agree on a way to roll back automatic spending cuts that took effect Friday. Those cuts slash $85 billion from the nation’s budget, which could slow down the economy.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 0.3 per cent to close at 14,127.82. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 0.5 per cent to 1,525.20. The Nasdaq composite rose 0.4 per cent to 3,182.03.

Benchmark oil for April delivery was up 24 cents to $90.36 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 56 cents to finish at $90.12 a barrel on the Nymex on Monday.

In currencies, the euro rose to $1.3027 from $1.3022 late Monday in New York. The dollar fell to 93.37 yen from 93.42 yen.

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