Asian markets rally on easing US worries

BANGKOK, Thailand (AP)- Most Asian markets rose Tuesday as investors returned from the Easter holiday in a mood to buy, encouraged by upbeat U.S. housing numbers and an overnight rally on Wall Street.

Stocks in Hong Kong and Australia, both of which were closed since Thursday, surged on easing concerns about the global credit crisis that has battered Asian markets since the start of the year.

"I think this is the beginning of a rally," said Francis Lun, a general manager at Fulbright Securities in Hong Kong. "We have gone down low enough and the market is ready for a rebound. Banks will lead the rally." Hong Kong’s benchmark Hang Seng index jumped 4.2 percent to 22,010.91 in afternoon trading, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 index soared 3.7 percent to finish at 5,318.4. Japan’s Nikkei 225 index rose 2.2 percent to 12,745.2 after ending flat on Monday.

Investors were heartened by a new agreement that will give Bear Stearns Cos. shareholders five times the payout that was set in a JPMorgan Chase & Co. buyout deal a week ago. In the revised offer, JPMorgan raised its offer for Bear Stearns, which has been at the center of the mortgage meltdown, to $10 a share from $2 a share.

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