Asia tech stocks track Apple rally, oil boosts energy firms

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Hong Kong (AFP)

Tech firms rallied in Asian trade Tuesday as investors cheered Warren Buffett's billion-dollar stake in Apple, while energy stocks tracked further gains on oil prices.

After last week's sell-off, US investors provided a blistering lead Monday, pumped up by news of Buffett's giant stake in the iPhone maker.

Apple, which has tumbled since it last month reported its first fall in sales of the popular smartphones, rallied 3.7 on the announcement.

And Asian suppliers to the firm followed suit, with Tokyo-listed Alps Electric and Japan Display enjoying healthy gains. LG Display in Seoul put on one percent and Hon Hai in Taipei added 0.2 percent.

Stock markets in the region were also broadly higher.

Tokyo added 0.9 percent by the break, a day after rising 0.3 percent on the back of a report that the government was considering delaying next year's planned sales tax hike.

Among other markets Hong Kong was down 0.1 percent, Sydney gained 0.5 percent and Singapore put on 0.8 percent. Shanghai dipped 0.2 percent.

Energy firms were among the big gainers as oil prices pushed higher still, a day after closing at six-month highs in reaction to a Goldman Sachs report saying the petroleum market was in a short-term supply deficit.

On Tuesday West Texas Intermediate was up 0.9 percent at $48.16 and Brent put on 0.5 percent to $49.21.

"Markets seem to be in a relatively sweet spot with a steadily stronger US dollar and resilient commodities prices," Angus Nicholson, a markets analyst at IG Ltd. in Melbourne, said by e-mail.

"Many investors have been predicting a pullback in markets, but despite all the negativity, markets have continued to grind higher."

Australia's Woodside Petroleum soared 2.3 percent and mining giant BHP Billiton added 2.4 percent. In Hong Kong CNOOC was 2.6 percent higher and PetroChina 2.5 percent up.

The optimistic tone filtered through to forex markets, where the dollar was holding around 109 yen, well up from the 18-month lows around 105.50 yen touched two weeks ago.

But the dollar dipped against higher-yielding, or riskier, emerging market currencies.

The Australian dollar rose 0.8 percent, South Korea's won gained 0.6 percent and the Indonesian rupiah was up 0.2 percent. The oil-reliant Malaysian ringgit edged up 0.3 percent and the Thai baht edged 0.1 percent higher.

- Key figures around 0230 GMT -

Tokyo: Nikkei 225: UP 0.9 percent at 16,615.11 (break)

Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 0.2 percent at 2,844.51

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: DOWN 0.1 percent at 19,867.38

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1320 from $1.1318 Monday

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 109.02 yen from 109.06 yen

New York - Dow: UP 1.0 percent at 17,710.71 (close)

London - FTSE 100: UP 0.2 percent at 6,151.40 (close)