Asian shares steady, oil rises as crude inventories decline

TOKYO (Reuters) - Asian shares and the US dollar got off to a steady start on Wednesday, while oil prices recovered after data showed a drop in U.S. supply.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was flat, while Japan's Nikkei stock average added 0.6 per cent in early trade, after marking a seven-year closing high on Tuesday.

The Singapore stock market's opening was delayed till 12:30pm because of a software problem.

Wall Street posted solid gains on Tuesday, with the Dow Jones industrial average closing at a record high, boosted by gains in energy shares as investors searched for bargains in the sector.

U.S. crude was up more than 1 per cent to US$67.76 a barrel in early Asian trading, after industry group American Petroleum Institute (API) released data showing U.S. crude stocks fell 6.5 million barrels last week.

In recently volatile trade amid massive oversupply, U.S. crude tumbled on Tuesday after rising 4 per cent on Monday, its biggest gain since August 2012.

Saudi Arabia would only consider cutting production if other countries, including non-OPEC producer Russia, joined in limits, former Saudi intelligence chief Prince Turki bin Faisal said on Tuesday.

While economists fear the sharp drop in global energy prices could fan deflationary pressures in some countries, both New York Fed President William Dudley and Vice Chair Stanley Fischer this week both painted a mostly rosy outlook for the U.S. economy and welcomed the cheaper oil.