(RTTNews.com) - Asian stocks rose broadly on Monday as weaker-than-expected U.S. housing and consumer sentiment data tempered expectations for a spate of interest rate increases this year and French voters gave President Emmanuel Macron's upstart party a solid victory in Sunday's second-round election.
Macron's party won a clear parliamentary majority at the weekend, giving him a strong mandate in parliament to pursue his pro-EU, business-friendly reform plans.
Brexit negotiations with the European Union are set to begin today
after Britain bowed to EU pressure for a formal opening to their long-awaited negotiations rather than first holding technical talks between civil servants.
The benchmark Shanghai Composite index climbed 21.21 points or 0.68 percent to 3,144.37 while Hong Kong's Hang Seng index was up 298 points or 1.16 percent at 25,924 in late trade.
Japanese shares hit two-week highs amid yen weakness as data showed Japan saw a surprise trade deficit in May because of a rise in imports. The Nikkei average gained 124.49 points or 0.62 percent to finish at 20,067.75, its highest level since June 5, while the broader Topix index closed 0.63 percent higher at 1,606.07.
Sony, DeNA, Toshiba, Advantest, Komatsu and Sumco were among the prominent gainers. Nomura Real Estate Holdings slumped as much as 13.8 percent after saying a stake purchase in the company by Japan Post was no longer being considered. Troubled airbag maker Takata plunged 16.5 percent on reports it was planning to file for bankruptcy.
Australian shares closed higher as strength in the financial sector outweighed weakness in the retail sector after Amazon bought an American grocery chain. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index rose 31.20 points or 0.54 percent to 5,805.20, while the broader All Ordinaries closed up 27.50 points or 0.47 percent at 5,835.50.
The big four banks rose between 0.9 percent and 1.5 percent after executives from the banks urged senators to consider major changes to a proposed A$6.2 billion levy.
Newcrest Mining advanced 1.4 percent after the gold miner boosted its stake in London AIM-listed SolGold Plc. Baby food maker Bubs Australia jumped 21 percent after it signed a partnership deal with Chinese online sales portal Kaola.com.
Mining giants BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto ended on a flat note, while energy stocks turned in a mixed performance. Retailers JB Hi-Fi, Harvey Norman and Woolworths fell around 3 percent each.
Seoul shares eked out modest gains, with foreign buying lending the market support. The benchmark Kospi inched up 9.07 points or 0.38 percent to 2,370.90, with heavyweights Hyundai Motor, Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix rising 1-4 percent.
New Zealand shares hit a record high as A2 Milk continued its strong run after upgrading its annual revenue guidance and data showed activity in the country's services sector expanded at an accelerated pace in May.
Consumer confidence in New Zealand also spiked in the second quarter of 2017, the latest survey from Westpac Bank revealed with an index score of 113.4. The benchmark S&P NZX-50 index closed 39.28 points or 0.52 percent higher at 7,592.03. A2 Milk shares soared 5.7 percent to $4.07.
Elsewhere, benchmark indexes in India, Indonesia, Singapore and Taiwan were up between 0.2 percent and 0.9 percent, while Malaysia's KLSE Composite was declining 0.3 percent.
U.S. stocks ended Friday's session narrowly mixed as investors digested another round of downbeat economic data and Amazon's deal to buy upscale grocer Whole Foods.
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