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Asian stock markets boosted by growth in Chinese corporate profits

Specialist John O'hara, center, works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange Monday, July 28, 2014. The stock market is opening mixed at the start of a busy week as a batch of merger announcements lift shares in Family Dollar and other companies. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

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Specialist John O'hara, center, works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange Monday, July 28, 2014. The stock market is opening mixed at the start of a busy week as a batch of merger announcements lift shares in Family Dollar and other companies. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

BEIJING, China - Asian stock markets were mostly higher Monday, shrugging off jitters about stiffer Western sanctions against Russia, after China reported strong corporate profits.

KEEPING SCORE: China's benchmark Shanghai Composite Index surged 1.7 per cent to 2,161.20. Tokyo's Nikkei 225 added 0.5 per cent to 15,540.47 and Hong Kong was up 0.6 per cent at 24,359.59. South Korea's Kospi gained 0.4 per cent to 2,042.10. Sydney's S&P/ASX 200 bucked the regional trend, shedding 0.2 per cent to 5,574.20.

CHINESE PROFITS: Profits at China's industrial enterprises soared 17.9 per cent in June over a year earlier, the government reported. For the first half of the year, profits were up 11.4 per cent, a new high for that period.

RUSSIA TENSIONS: Asian stocks rose despite declines in U.S. and European markets on Friday after weak earnings from Visa and Amazon and an agreement by European governments to tighten sanctions on Russia. They will limit trade in defence, technology and other goods and proposed restricting access to European capital markets for Russian state-owned companies. Tensions have escalated after a Malaysia Airlines jet was shot down over a part of eastern Ukraine controlled by pro-Russian separatists, killing all 298 people on board.

ANALYST TAKE: "There is no sign that geopolitics is de-escalating, which should benefit safe-haven assets," while the "macro backdrop in Asia should be one of improvement," said Credit Agricole CIB in a report.

US OUTLOOK: Traders were looking ahead to U.S. economic data due out this week. Second-quarter gross domestic product due to be reported Wednesday is expected to show growth picking up. Forecasters expect employment on Friday to show the United States added 235,000 to 255,000 new jobs in July.

CURRENCIES, OIL: The euro edged up to $1.3434 from the previous session's $1.3431. The dollar declined to 101.81 yen from 101.83 yen. The price of oil fell 47 cents at $101.62.

WALL STREET: The Dow dropped 123.23 points, or 0.7 per cent, to 16,960.57 on Friday. It's the first time the Dow has closed below the psychologically notable 17,000-point mark since July 9. The Standard & Poor's 500 fell 9.64 points, or 0.5 per cent, to 1,978.34

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