Asian shares rose yesterday, with energy firms clawing back some losses as oil prices recovered from multi-year lows, while Shanghai surged to a three-year high on hopes for more Chinese government easing.
The Russian rouble strengthened slightly against the dollar after suffering its worst one-day fall in 16 years, battered by falling crude prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine.
Tokyo added 0.42%, or 73.12 points, to end at a seven-year high of 17,663.22. Analysts said dealers were broadly unfazed by a decision from Moody’s ratings agency to downgrade Japan’s credit rating. Sydney jumped 1.41%, or 73.6 points, to close at 5,281.3, boosted by the rally in energy firms after their huge losses in the previous two sessions. Seoul rose 0.61 points to 1,965.83.
Shanghai soared 3.11%, or 83.39 points, to 2,763.55 – its highest since July 2011 – and Hong Kong rose 1.23%, or 286.85 points, to 23,654.30.
In other markets, Bangkok ended flat, up just 0.01%, or 0.18 points, to 1,594.00; Bangchak Petroleum fell 2.90% to 33.50 baht, while supermarket operator Big C Supercenter dropped 2.33% to 251baht.
Jakarta ended up 0.22%, or 11.51 points, at 5,175.79; lender Bank Permata gained 1.31% to 1,550 rupiah, while palm oil firm Sinar Mas Agro Resources and Technology fell 6.25% to 7,500 rupiah.
Taipei fell 0.91%, or 82.92 points, to 9,034.79; Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co shed 1.79% to Tw$137.5 while Hon Hai Precision Industry slipped 2.73% to Tw$92.7.
Wellington was flat, edging up 0.41 points to 5,430.04; Mainfreight added 0.13% to NZ$15.60 and Ryman Healthcare was down 0.88% at NZ$7.90.
Manila edged up 0.17%, or 12.50 points, to 7,344.23; Universal Robina Corp rose 0.15% to 196.10 pesos, Ayala Corp was also 0.15% higher at 690pesos and BDO Unibank advanced 0.83% to 109.40 pesos.
Kuala Lumpur ended 0.43% higher, a day after it suffered its worst one-day drop in nearly two years. The index closed up 7.70 points at 1,785.97; SapuraKencana Petroleum gained 1.99% to close at 2.56 ringgit, while UMW Oil and Gas rose 6.44% to 2.48 ringgit.
Singapore closed up 0.50%, or 16.68 points, at 3,322.32; oil rig builder Sembcorp Marine gained 1.36% to Sg$2.99 while jet fuel supplier China Aviation Oil Singapore rose 3.03% to Sg$0.68.
Oil prices edged down in Asia but were still well off their five-year lows touched on Monday before recovering on bargain-buying.
In Asian trade US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for January delivery fell 50 cents to $68.50, while Brent crude for January was down 76 cents at $71.75.
Both contracts rallied late Monday to pare earlier losses that had seen WTI hit a trough of $63.72 and Brent touch $67.53.
Prices have plummeted since Thursday’s decision by the Opec oil cartel to maintain existing output levels despite a global supply glut.
While prices are edging down again, energy giants enjoyed some buying interest after a painful sell-off on Friday and Monday.
Sydney-listed BHP Billiton rose 3.9%, Woodside added 1.9% and Santos gained 0.9%, while in Hong Kong PetroChina was up 1.9% and CNOOC gained 1.1%.
However airlines, whose main cost is fuel, suffered losses after recent advances. Cathay Pacific in Hong Kong dipped 1.5% and Seoul-based Korean Airlines shed 2.3%. On currency markets, the ruble edged up slightly to 51.20 against the dollar from 52.00.
On Monday the Russian unit plunged almost 9% to 53.9 against the greenback, its worst one-day fall since the country’s 1998 debt crisis.
It has now fallen nearly 60% against the dollar since the start of this year due to collapsing oil prices and Western sanctions over Russia’s support for a separatist uprising in eastern Ukraine.
In other forex trading, the dollar was at ¥118.80 against ¥118.40 in New York Monday.
The euro sat at ¥147.86 compared with ¥147.64, while it bought $1.2444 against $1.2469.
Shunichi Otsuka, general manager of research and strategy at Ichiyoshi Asset Management, said the yen and stocks were not badly hit by the Moody’s downgrade Monday. The ratings agency cited Tokyo’s debt problems and the government’s faltering efforts to boost the economy.
“Little of Japan’s debt is held by foreigners, so unless there is a surprise upward impact on interest rates, the picture for equity investing should not be much harmed,” Otsuka told Dow Jones Newswires.
Shares in Hong Kong and Shanghai were boosted by hopes that Monday’s weak index of manufacturing activity in China will prompt the country’s leaders to unleash fresh stimulus measures, after the central bank last month announced a shock interest rate cut.
Wall Street provided a limp lead as US investors ran for the sidelines Monday after the Thanksgiving holiday weekend saw disappointing sales on the key Black Friday retail day, which officially kicks off the Christmas shopping season.
The Dow eased 0.27%, the S&P 500 fell 0.68% and the Nasdaq sank 1.34%. Gold was at $1,198.25 yesterday, compared with $1,156.80 late Monday.