Asian stock markets rise amid China stimulus hopes

Asian stock markets recovered modestly Wednesday as hopes China would expand measures to revive its economy countered growing signs of economic decay in the US and other major countries. The upward move followed heavy selling over the last two days and bucked a fifth-straight day of declines on Wall Street. Chinese shares led the region's advance on speculation the country's leaders would unveil new initiatives to bolster the world's third-largest economy, its growth now sputtering, at a legislative meeting that opens Thursday. That gave a boost to other Asian markets, including Japan and Hong Kong. Also helping sentiment were figures that Chinese manufacturing, while contracting again in February, did so at a slower rate than the previous month. For many investors, the news fed hopes that Chinese demand and growth can help bring about a quicker end to worst global slowdown in decades.