Asia shares gain as crude oil bounce boosts risk assets
Asian stocks rose across the board on Thursday as crude oil extended gains on hopes that big producers will cap output, improving investor sentiment for riskier assets. Spreadbetters expected a mixed open for European shares, with Britain's FTSE (.FTSE) seen dipping on some nervousness as British Prime Minister David Cameron holds "now or never" talks to keep his country in the European Union.
Germany's DAX and France's CAC were forecast to open a touch higher. Crude oil remained the main market driver. U.S. crude was up 2.1 percent at $31.34 a barrel following a 7 percent jump on Wednesday after Iran voiced support for a RussiaSaudi-led move to freeze production to deal with the market glut that had pushed prices to 12-year lows.
"While there has been some confusion as to whether 'support' equals action, oil traders are simply relieved that the world's fourth-largest holder of oil reserves is willing to cooperate," wrote Kathy Lien, managing director of FX strategy at BK Asset Management.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 1.8 percent, pulling further away from a three-week low struck last week when a widespread chill in risk appetite amid concern about the euro zone banking sector depressed equities globally.
Japan's Nikkei (.N225) continued its recovery from last week's 16-month low and gained 3.0 percent, shrugging off the biggest drop in domestic exports since 2009. Shanghai stocks (.SSEC) rose 0.6 percent, in muted reaction to data showing China's January consumer inflation quickening to 1.8 percent from the previous year.
Australian shares (.AXJO) climbed 2.2 percent and South Korea's KOSPI (.KS11) added 1.1 percent. "Recovering oil prices have set the stage for an accelerated rebound in global stocks, while minutes from the FOMC supported the mood," said Rhoo Yong-seok, a stock analyst at Hyundai Securities.