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Asian stocks mixed as investors mull world growth prospects

HONG KONG – Asian stocks were mixed on Monday as investors paused to assess the prospects for global economic growth and lower oil prices weighed on sentiment.

KEEPING SCORE: South Korea’s benchmark Kospi index slipped 0.1 per cent to 1,989.46 while Hong Kong’s benchmark Hang Seng index was up 0.3 per cent to 20,739.02. The Shanghai Composite Index in mainland China rose 1.6 per cent to 3,000.49. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 slipped 0.5 per cent to 5,156.20. Southeast Asian benchmarks were uneven. Markets in Japan were closed for a holiday

GLOBAL OUTLOOK: The weakening price of oil and concerns about the state of China’s economy continue to weigh on the minds of investors as they evaluate global growth prospects. Investors will also be mulling the outlook for the U.S. economy this week after Fed officials said last week that they would slow the rate of interest rate increases this year because of concerns about the global economy. Trading in many major markets is expected to be quieter than usual this week because trading is shortened not only by the Japanese holiday but also the Good Friday holiday in Western countries.

WALL STREET: Major U.S. benchmarks ended higher on Friday, for the fifth week in a row of gains. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 0.7 per cent to 17,602.30 and is now up 1 per cent for the year. The S&P 500 gained 0.4 per cent to 2,049.58. The Nasdaq composite picked up 0.4 per cent to 4,795.65.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude extended losses, sliding 34 cents, or 0.8 per cent, to $40.80 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract lost 76 cents, or 1.9 per cent, to settle at $39.44 a barrel. Brent crude, the benchmark for international oils, gave up 27 cents to $40.93 a barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar dipped to 111.32 yen from 111.56 yen. The euro rose to $1.284 from $1.1268 in late trading Friday.