Asian shares rise as Ukraine fears ease

An employee of a foreign exchange trading company in Tokyo walks past a monitor showing Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. Asian markets picked up on Tuesday with traders welcoming news that pro-Russian rebels had handed over the black boxes from
An employee of a foreign exchange trading company in Tokyo walks past a monitor showing Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. Asian markets picked up on Tuesday with traders welcoming news that pro-Russian rebels had handed over the black boxes from downed flight MH17, helping to ease geopolitical concerns. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

HONG KONG (AFP) - Asian markets picked up Tuesday with traders welcoming news that pro-Russian rebels had handed over the black boxes from downed flight MH17, helping to ease geopolitical concerns.

While Wall Street started the week on a low, Japan's Nikkei led the gainers as it reopened after a long weekend, with exporters supported by a weaker yen.

Tokyo rose 1.03 per cent, Hong Kong added 0.69 per cent and Sydney edged up marginally, while Shanghai added 0.19 per cent and Seoul was 0.19 per cent higher.

The crash of the Malaysia Airlines jet on Thursday in Ukraine fanned fears that a regional crisis could become an international one, with Western governments saying it was shot down by pro-Russian separatists.

However, those tensions eased on Tuesday after it emerged the rebels had given the plane's two black boxes to Malaysian officials.

They also announced a ceasefire with a 10 kilometre (six mile) radius around the crash site to allow international probe to safely access the vast area where the flight came down.

And they allowed a train carrying the remains of 280 of the people killed in the disaster to leave the region.

The improved sentiment filtered through to currency markets, with the yen easing as investors grow more confident in higher risk assets. The Japanese unit is considered a safe haven in times of uncertainty.

In morning exchanges the dollar was worth 101.48 yen compared with 101.38 yen in New York, while the euro rose to 137.22 yen from 137.10 yen.

The single currency also bought US$1.3524 against US$1.3523.

Wall Street's three main indexes ended in the red on concerns over Ukraine - before news of the black box breakthrough emerged.

The Dow fell 0.28 per cent, the S&P 500 eased 0.23 per cent and the Nasdaq lost 0.17 per cent. US dealers were also spooked by the ongoing battle in Gaza, where Israel has mounted a ground assault against Hamas, leading to the deaths of hundreds of civilians.

On oil markets, US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for August delivery was down eight cents at US$104.51 a barrel in mid-morning Asian trade, and Brent crude for September dropped five cents to US$107.63.

Gold fetched US$1,313.80 an ounce by 0200 GMT compared with US$1,314.80 late Monday.