Asian stocks, currencies, oil rally after sell-off


Hong Kong (AFP)

Asian stocks rallied along with oil and high-yielding currencies in early trade on Thursday, providing some respite from a rout that has sent global markets into a tailspin at the start of the year.

Hong Kong, Tokyo and Sydney led a broad advance across regional trading floors as investors picked up cheap assets following Wednesday's bloodbath, although fears of further volatility hung over their heads.

Analysts said US markets had provided a ray of hope, having slashed early losses with late bargain-buying.

However, Shanghai, which has given up around 16 percent already this year, extended its downward spiral despite a huge injection of cash into financial markets by the Chinese central bank to ease liquidity fears.

Markets from Asia to the Americas have taken a hammering so far in 2016, chiefly hit by crashing oil prices and worries about the Chinese economy, which is a crucial driver of global growth.

News on Tuesday that China's 2015 growth hit forecasts provided a brief lift but the selling resumed with a vengeance the next day, characterising the extreme volatility that has marked the past weeks.

On Thursday, Tokyo's Nikkei jumped 1.6 percent by lunch, while Hong Kong was 1.1 percent higher and Sydney gained more than one percent. There were also healthy advances in Singapore and Seoul.

Energy firms were beneficiaries of a rate uptick in crude markets. CNOOC in Hong Kong added two percent and PetroChina rose almost three percent, while Sydney-listed Santos surged 5.8 percent and BHP Billiton was 1.9 percent up.

While oil prices edged up, they are still wallowing at more than 12-year lows as the commodity comes under pressure from a worldwide glut, weak demand, overproduction and a strong dollar.

US benchmark West Texas Intermediate -- which fell below $27 briefly Wednesday -- was 1.3 percent higher at $28.72. And Brent crude was up 1.4 percent at $28.28, days after ducking under $28.

On currency markets, under-pressure emerging market units bounced back against the greenback as traders found a little confidence to buy into riskier assets with better returns.

The Australian dollar was 0.3 percent higher, South Korea's won gained 0.4 percent and the Indonesian rupiah added 0.6 percent. The oil-dependent Malaysian ringgit put on 0.4 percent.

- Key figures around 0230 GMT -

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 1.6 percent at 16,682.11 (break)

Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 0.9 percent at 2,950.69

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: UP 1.1 percent at 19,097.30

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.0875 from $1.0890 Wednesday

Dollar/yen: UP at 116.35 yen from 116.92 yen

New York - Dow: DOWN 1.6 percent at 15,766.74 (close)

London - FTSE 100: DOWN 3.5 percent at 5,673.58 (close)