BANGKOK: Asian stock markets inched higher Monday as good news about the U.S. economy helped to maintain enthusiasm for riskier assets while a weaker yen improved the outlook for some of Japan's companies.
The Nikkei 225 index in Tokyo continued its recent upward march, adding 0.2 percent to 10,146.64. The Nikkei has risen four sessions in a row and closed at a seven-month high Friday.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng index gained 0.1 percent to 21,353.32 and South Korea's Kospi rose 0.4 percent to 2,042.18. Australia's S&P ASX/200 climbed 0.5 percent to 4,296.30.
Benchmarks in Singapore and Indonesia were higher, while mainland China was mixed. Taiwan, New Zealand and the Philippines fell.
There was plenty of good economic news last week in the U.S. Unemployment claims fell to 351,000 — matching a four-year low. The Federal Reserve signaled that the economic recovery was gaining steam.
The Dow Jones industrial average is up 8.3 percent this year, and the Nasdaq broke through 3,000 for the first time since the dot-com days more than a decade ago.
On top of that, the debt maelstrom engulfing some of Europe's economies appears to be easing. On Monday, Greece expected to get an installment of an emergency international bailout to help keep the country afloat while it overhauls its economy.
"Global markets are, healthily enough, no longer obsessed with the minutiae of the Eurozone sovereign debt crisis," Herve Goulletquer of Credit Agricole CIB wrote in an email.
Benchmark oil for May delivery was up 24 cents to $107.30 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose $1.95 to finish at $107.06 per barrel.
The euro fell to $1.3164 from $1.3171 late Friday in New York. The dollar rose to 83.46 yen from 83.36 yen.