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Stocks

China stocks soar on firm production data

HONG KONG -- Chinese stocks rose for the first time in three days as the country's stronger-than-expected industrial output data cheered market sentiment.

     The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index jumped 2.5% to 3,520.668. The Shenzhen Composite Index, meanwhile, ended 2% higher at 2,239.678. Shenzhen's two small cap indexes also fared well. The ChiNext index for startups rose 1.4%, while the small and midsize enterprise index was up 2.2%.

     China's National Bureau of Statistics on Saturday announced economic data for November, with industrial output growing from October's 5.6% from a year earlier to a five-month high of 6.2%. Although some other data remained weak, "China's activity data provide further evidence that policy easing has helped to stabilize the economy," said Julian Evans-Pritchard, an economist at Capital Economics.

     Amid speculation that the government is panning stimulus measures ahead of the Central Economic Work Conference, to begin by the end of December, infrastructure stocks were among the major gainers in Shanghai. CRRC and China Railway Group jumped 2.6% and 3.5%, respectively.

     China National Nuclear Power rose 3.2%, while Shanghai Electric Group increased by the same margin.

     Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index slipped 0.7% to 21,309.85. The Hang Seng China Enterprise Index, which consists of mainland Chinese H shares listed in Hong Kong, closed 0.1% higher at 9,315.91.

     Fosun International, which suspended trading Friday following revelations of Chairman Guo Guangchang's disappearance, plunged 9.4%, even as Guo reportedly got back to work Monday. Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Group, another subsidiary of Fosun Group, also tumbled 12%.

     Oil companies also weighed on the Hong Kong market, following lower crude oil prices. PetroChina was down 1.2%, while CNOOC fell 1.5%. China Petroleum & Chemical (Sinopec) slipped 1.4%.

     Other Asian markets were mixed. Following declines in the U.S. and European markets over the weekend, Japan's Nikkei Stock Average dropped 1.8% to 18,883.42, falling below the 19,000 level for the first time since Nov. 4. South Korea's benchmark Kospi Index ended 1.1% lower at 1,927.82, while Taiwan's weighted index slipped 0.9% to 8,040.16.

     The main indexes in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia were down Monday afternoon. Stock markets in India and the Philippines were up slightly.

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