Sydney/Singapore: Asian stocks rose on Monday as investors cheered the upbeat US labour force report that sent Wall Street to an all-time closing high last week, while the dollar held its ground against the yen.
               
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan climbed nearly one percent with Australia's main share index also about a percent higher. Malaysian shares were the biggest gainers, rising 3 percent after the ruling coalition government won a tight election.
               
Japanese financial markets are shut on Monday for a public holiday and will reopen on Tuesday. Britain's stock market is also shut on Monday for a national holiday, and that is expected to keep trading quiet in Europe.
               
Financial spreadbetter IG expected Germany's DAX to open 1 point higher, flat in percentage terms, and France's CAC40 to open 2.2 points lower, or down up to 0.1 percent.
               
The gains in Asian stock and commodity markets followed after data on Friday that showed US employment rose at a faster pace than expected in April. Hiring was much stronger than previously reported in the prior two months, a relief to investors nervous of a US slowdown.
               
But other US data, including a survey of the vast services sector, was less encouraging and led investors to suspect that the Federal Reserve will probably maintain its aggressive stimulus programme.
               
"From the market's point of view, this is a Goldilocks scenario - good enough to provide reasonable growth in corporate revenues but not strong enough to trigger more than a mild tapering in the Fed's asset purchase program," said Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets.
               
The data helped lift US Treasury yields. The dollar however was less consistent, gaining against the Australian dollar and keeping Friday's gains against the low-yielding yen, but losing ground to emerging Asian currencies.
               
Having rallied more than 1 percent against the yen on Friday, the dollar last traded at 99.06 yen, nearly flat on the day. It is within a hair's breath of the 4-year peak nudging 100 that it scaled last month.
               
The yen was likely to stay on the defensive after the boost to risk sentiment from the better-than-expected US jobs data, said Satoshi Okagawa, senior global markets analyst for Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation in Singapore.
               
"Rather than dollar strength, the sentiment is more along the lines of going risk-on. It feels like yen-selling with cross/yen pairs leading the way," Okagawa said.
 
AUSSIE FALTERS

While other currencies in Asia outperformed the greenback, the Aussie slipped 0.3 percent to USD 1.0285, although it stayed off last week's low near USD 1.0220.
               
The decline followed  local retail sales data, where the monthly data disappointed markets but the quarterly number, coupled with US jobs data, gave markets reason to slightly tone down expectations of a cut in interest rates at the Reserve Bank of Australia's policy meeting on Tuesday.
               
Commodities also added to gains, having powered higher on Friday in the wake of the US jobs report. US crude rose more than one percent towards USD 97.00 a barrel, reaching fresh one-month highs.
               
Shanghai copper futures jumped by their 5 percent daily limit on Monday, tracking sharp gains in London in the previous session. London copper surged more than 6 percent on Friday in its biggest daily rise since October 2011.
               
However, to put its move in perspective, copper had fallen nearly 20 percent in the past three months partly on worries about a slowing global economy.
               
Malaysia's ringgit and stock market were the regional standouts on Monday, with the ringgit hitting a 20-month high after Sunday's election saw the governing coalition extend its half-century rule, albeit with its worst-ever performance.
               
The National Front, or Barisan National (BN), won 133 seats in the 222-member parliament in Sunday's election, although it failed to regain the two-thirds majority it lost for the first time in 2008.

(Agencies)

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