Asian stocks rally after drop while won sinks before rate review

SYDNEY (Bloomberg) - Asian stocks rose, rallying from a one-month low, while US crude oil traded near a two-week low. The dollar held gains against major peers, as the Korean won retreated before the central bank reviews interest rates.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index advanced for the first time this week, adding 0.2 per cent by 9:23 a.m. in Tokyo. Japan's Topix index gained 0.4 per cent as the yen held its drop versus the greenback. Standard & Poor's 5000 Index futures were little changed following a second day of losses in the US gauge.

The US dollar traded near a 12-year high against the euro as Japanese bonds followed gains in European debt. The won slipped 0.5 per cent, to near a 1 1/2-year low. Gold maintained declines, while US oil traded below US$49 a barrel.

Increasing divergence in US monetary policy compared with the rest of the world is fuelling a dollar ascendancy, knocking stocks from multi-year highs amid concern over the impact on company profits. Korea reviews rates amid a wave of global easing, with Thailand unexpectedly reducing borrowing costs Wednesday and New Zealand signalling an extended rate pause amid slowing inflation. US retail sales data Thursday will colour expectations for next week's meeting of the Federal Reserve.

"We've never seen stimulus created like this before and how you bleed that out is creating a lot of uncertainty as to what's going to happen" Michael Cuggino, president of Pacific Heights Asset Management LLC in San Francisco told Bloomberg TV. "There's such a divergence between what's going on in the rest of the world with central banks cutting rates and the US likely raising them. Still, there's money to be made in stocks."