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Asian shares gain as heavy data week starts

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Shutterstock photo - - Asian stocks gained on Monday to start a heavy data week on a solid tone.

The Nikkei 225 rose 0.3%, breaking a five-session losing streak that saw the index decline every day last week--its longest run of consecutive losses since late 2012.

Elsewhere in Asia, stocks edged higher as the region waited for a flurry of economic data due this week. Regional sentiment was also supported by gains on Wall Street on Friday, where stocks ended higher as fears receded over the health of a troubled Portuguese bank that rocked markets late last week.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.6% and South Korea's KOSPI rose 0.4%.

In particular focus was Chinese growth data, due Wednesday, which will provide an update on the health of Asia's largest economy. The country's gross domestic product likely grew 7.4% in the second quarter, a result that would put it in line with the first quarter's expansion.

In China, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index rose by 0.6% and the Shanghai Composite was 0.1% higher.

In the past week, U.S. stocks rose on upbeat earnings from Wells Fargo, while hopes Portugal's financial system remains sound also boosted stock prices.

The Dow 30 rose 0.17%, the S&P 500 index rose 0.15%, while the NASDAQ Composite index rose 0.44%.

Earnings season will gain steam this week and hopes for more pleasant surprises sent stocks gaining on Friday as did ebbing European financial concerns.

The parent company of Portugal's largest bank, Banco Espirito Santo (LISBON:BES), said it missed some payments on commercial paper, which spooked markets by fueling concerns surrounding the soundness of the banking sectors in Portugal as well as in Spain and Italy.

By Friday, investors crept out of safe-harbor dollar positions and returned to both European and U.S. equities after Banco Espírito Santo sought to reassure markets that it had the funds to cover its parent company.

Portuguese government and central bank authorities sought to soothe global markets as well by assuring to the soundness of the country's financial system.

Meanwhile in the U.S., solid jobless claims numbers released on Thursday boosted spirits on Friday.

The U.S. Department of Labor reported earlier that the number of individuals filing for initial jobless benefits in the week ending July 5 declined by 11,000 to 304,000. Analysts had expected jobless claims to hold steady at 315,000 last week. offers an extensive set of professional tools for the financial markets.

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