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Stock market today: Asian shares start week with gains

NEW YORK (AP) — Asian shares were mostly higher Monday after a widespread rally on Wall Street partly spurred by Apple’s report of better profit than expected.

Tokyo’s benchmark fell as markets reopened after several days of holidays, while markets in China advanced.

A report showed hiring accelerated across the economy by much more than expected last month. The government’s jobs report also showed workers won bigger pay raises than expected.

Such trends helped calm worries that a recession is looming, even as time grows short on reaching an agreement on the U.S. government debt ceiling, Stephen Innes of SPI Asset Management said in a commentary.

“But anxiety is building early this time and shifted into high gear last week after Secretary Yellen warned that a default could occur as soon as June 1,” he said.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 shed 0.7% to 28,951.08.

Reopening after a weeklong holiday, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index added 0.8% to 20,199.67 and the Shanghai Composite index surged 1.6% to 3,386.59. South Korea’s KOSPI jumped 0.9% to 2,522.33, while the S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.7% in Sydney to 7,272.30.

Friday on Wall Street, the S&P 500 jumped 1.8% to 4,136.25, though it still turned in a modest loss for the week that was its worst in nearly two months.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 1.7% to 33,674.38, and the Nasdaq rallied 2.2% to 12,235.41.

The strong employment data did revive worries that persisting high inflation may push the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates further, adding to pressure on an already slowing economy.

The Fed said Wednesday it wasn’t sure of its next move after raising its benchmark rate to a range of 5% to 5.25%, up from virtually zero early last year. Many traders expect the Fed to hold rates steady at its next meeting in June, which would be the first time that’s happened in more than a year.

High interest rates have already caused cracks in the U.S. banking system. Last week, regulators seized First Republic Bank, which became the third large U.S. bank failure to hit since March.

Investors have been hunting for the next possible weak link in the system and driving down stock prices for those seen at risk of a sudden exodus by customers. Several of the hardest hit recovered some of their steep losses Friday, with PacWest Bancorp. soaring 81.7%. It was still down 43.3% for the week. Western Alliance Bancorp. jumped 49.2% to trim its loss last week to 26.8%.

The U.S. banking industry’s turmoil has raised uncertainty. If banks pull back on their lending, that could act like rate increases and further stifle the economy.

Apple, the most valuable stock on Wall Street, gained 4.7% on Friday, helping to lift the S&P 500. The iPhone maker’s earnings and revenue fell but still exceeded analysts’ muted expectations.

In other trading Monday, benchmark U.S. crude oil picked up 8 cents to $71.42 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It jumped $2.78 on Friday to $71.34 per barrel.

Brent crude, the international pricing standard, added 7 cents to $75.37 per barrel.

The dollar slipped to 134.85 Japanese yen from 134.88 yen. The euro rose to $1.1040 from $1.1023.

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AP Business Writer Stan Choe contributed.