Asian markets higher following holiday

BANGKOK: Markets in Asia were mostly higher Monday, as quake-devastated Japan began turning its attention to reconstruction.Japan’s Nikkei 225 index was up 0.3 percent to 9,710.11, with shares rising of companies expected to play a major role in the country’s reconstruction following the devastating March 11 earthquake.Japan’s government last Friday proposed a special $50 billion (4 trillion yen) budget to help finance reconstruction efforts and plans to build 100,000 temporary homes for survivors of the earthquake and tsunami, which all but destroyed the country’s northeastern coast and killed 27,000 people.Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. and Nishimatsu Construction Co. Inc. both rose 1.6 percent. Komatsu Ltd., one of the world’s leading equipment makers, was 0.7 percent higher. Kobe Steel Ltd. was up 0.5 percent.

South Korea’s Kospi rose 0.1 percent to 2,200.84, with airline shares like Korean Air Lines Co. Ltd. making big gains. Korean Air was up 3.7 percent, and Asiana Airline Inc. jumped 4 percent.Mainland China’s Shanghai Composite Index slid 1.1 percent to 2,976.45. Benchmark indexes in Singapore and Indonesia were also lower.Some investors stayed on the sidelines in anticipation of several key events later this week, including earnings reports of some major Japanese companies and the Federal Reserve meeting on April 26-27.Benchmark crude for June delivery rose 66 cents to $112.95.The dollar strengthened against the yen to 82.38 in Asia on Monday from 81.90 late Friday in New York.The euro slipped to $1.4544 from $1.4550. It had risen to a 16-month high of $1.4648 during Thursday’s trading.Investors have turned away from the dollar this year because they expect the Federal Reserve to keep U.S. interest rates near zero even as other central banks around the world raise interest rates to counteract rising food and energy prices. Higher rates tend to support a currency’s value.Stock, bond and commodities markets were closed in the U.S. and many markets are also shut in Europe and Asia on Good Friday. Markets in Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong remained closed Monday.