Asian stock markets mostly higher

HONG KONG: Asian stock markets were mostly higher Monday as stronger earnings from Chinese companies and a deal to provide Greece a financial safety net helped buoy sentiment.

The dollar was higher against the yen, while crude oil prices rose as investors showed more appetite for riskier assets.

Chinese shares led the region after mega lender China Construction Bank and refiner Sinopec reported robust profits for 2009, supporting optimism about the world's third-largest economy and an engine for part of Asia's growth since the recession.

The Shanghai index jumped 62.44 points, or 2 percent, to 3,122.15 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 164.33 points, or 0.8 percent, to 21,217.44.

Markets in Taiwan, Australia and India also gained.

A tepid on session on Wall Street Friday limited the region's gains.

Japanese and South Korean markets were modestly lower. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 stock average was down 0.3 percent at 10,963.78.

In Japan, several big-name electronics companies suffered losses. Casio Computer Co. was down 3.3 while Nintendo fell 2.8 percent.

Japan's government said retail sales were higher for the second month in a row in February, rising 4.2 percent. In January, sales were up 2.3 percent.

But sales at larger retailers, including supermarkets and department stores, fell during the month.

In currency, the dollar rose to 92.73 yen from 92.35 yen. The euro was lower at $1.3435 from $1.3487.

The benchmark oil contract rose 47 cents to $80.47 a barrel.

In New York on Friday, the Dow Jones industrial average rose 9.15 points, or 0.1 percent, to 10,850.36, after earlier climbing higher on the news that European leaders announced a plan to help Greece with its debts. A similar advance and retreat occurred Thursday.