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Asia stock markets rise after US releases better-than-expected retail sales data

BANGKOK – Asian stock markets rose Tuesday after data showed U.S. consumers revved up their retail spending last month.

The Commerce Department in Washington said retail sales increased 0.1 per cent in April from March, an improvement from March’s 0.5 per cent decline. Economists had forecast that sales declined by 0.3 per cent in April. The uptick in spending on items such as clothing, cars and electronics is likely to boost the country’s growth figures for the current quarter.

Still, analysts cautioned against treating the news with euphoria, saying that expectations of a drop in retail sales may simply have been too bearish.

“April retail sales surprised a bit on the upside,” analysts at DBS Bank Ltd. in Singapore said in a market commentary. However, they added that the better-than-expected result still did not portray a picture of health, nor does it “alter the picture of a consumer that remains mired in sub-par spending.”

Japan’s Nikkei 225 index rose 0.2 per cent to 14,817.10. South Korea’s Kospi added 1 per cent to 1,968.20. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.2 per cent to 5,221.80. Benchmarks in Singapore and Taiwan also gained, while those in New Zealand and Mainland China fell.

Wall Street took a breather Monday from last week’s record-breaking rally. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 0.2 per cent, to close at 15,091.68. The Standard & Poor’s 500 was little changed at 1,633.77. The Nasdaq composite index rose less than 0.1 per cent to 3,438.79.

Benchmark oil for June delivery was up 30 cents to $95.48 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 87 cents to close at $95.17 a barrel on the Nymex on Monday.

In currencies, the euro rose to $1.3016 from $1.2970 late Monday in New York. The dollar fell to 101.50 yen from 101.93 yen.

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