Asian stock markets mostly higher with Hong Kong, Wall Street, London closed for holidays

BEIJING, China – Asian stocks were mostly higher Monday on a quiet trading day with Hong Kong, Wall Street and London closed for holidays.

KEEPING SCORE: The Shanghai Composite Index surged 1.9 per cent to 4,747.37 and Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 was up 0.7 per cent at 20,407.02. Sydney’s S&P/ASX 200 advanced 1.1 per cent to 5,730.10. Singapore, Manila and New Zealand also rose. Jakarta declined. Hong Kong and Seoul were closed for holidays.

U.S. ECONOMY: The Labor Department reported inflation rose 0.1 per cent in April, its third straight increase. The numbers suggest that an improving economy could be setting the stage for the Federal Reserve to raise its benchmark short-term interest rate. Also Friday, Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen said in a speech that she expected the Fed to begin raising rates later this year if the job market improves. But she cautioned that the economy is still facing challenges, including disappointing wage growth and too many people working part-time.

GREECE DEBT: Greece’s ruling Radical Left Coalition rejected a call by party hardliners to skip its next payment to the International Monetary Fund. The ruling party’s central committee also rejected calls to nationalize banks and hold a referendum to allow voters to reject any deal with the European Union and the IMF over debt relief in exchange for fiscal changes. Greece owes 1.6 billion euros ($1.7 billion) in June. It has not received bailout aid since August and the European Central Bank has provided less help lately to Greek banks.

WALL STREET: On Friday, major indexes declined as oil drillers and other energy-related companies followed oil prices lower. The S&P fell but closed up for the week. The index has closed at record highs recently, though the gains have been tiny as investors fret over unimpressive earnings and an uncertain global economy. The Standard & Poor’s 500 closed down 4.76 points, or 0.2 per cent, to 2,126.06. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 53.72 points, or 0.3 per cent, to 18,232.02. The Nasdaq composite edged down 1.43 points to 5,089.36. Markets were due to be closed Monday for the Memorial Day holiday.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. oil rose 14 cents to $59.86 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract shed $1 on Friday to $59.72. Brent crude used to price international oils fell 5 cents to $65.32 in London after losing $1.27 on Friday.

CURRENCIES: The dollar gained to 121.66 yen from Friday’s 121.54 yen. The euro declined to $1.0990 from $1.1013.