Asian shares rise on tentative bounce in crude oil

A man (right) cleans electronic boards showing Japan's Nikkei average, outside a brokerage in Tokyo.
A man (right) cleans electronic boards showing Japan's Nikkei average, outside a brokerage in Tokyo.PHOTO: REUTERS

TOKYO (Reuters) - Asian share markets rose on Tuesday (April 19), taking their cue from gains on Wall Street after a strike in Kuwait helped spark a recovery in crude oil prices.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up 0.5 per cent.

Japan's Nikkei stock index was up 3.4 per cent in early trading, a day after it plunged by that same percentage as investors assessed the impact of earthquakes in southwestern Japan's Kyushu on manufacturers' supply chains.

Brazil's Bovespa index fell 0.6 per cent overnight as President Dilma Rousseff vowed to fight her impeachment, which could force her from office after 13 years of leftist Workers'Party rule.

Beleaguered crude oil futures found a bottom after plunging as talks broke down in Doha over the weekend, where producers had hoped to curb a supply glut. A strike in Kuwait temporarily slashed the country's oil output by more than half, and helped pull crude prices off their lows.

Brent crude was up about 0.1 per cent at US$42.97 a barrel, while US crude added 0.5 per cent to US$39.96.

"Oil started the day sharply lower after key producers failed to reach an agreement to freeze production but the losses were short lived as reports of a strike in Kuwait sparked a U-turn that briefly took prices into positive territory," Kathy Lien, managing director at BK Asset Management in New York, said in a note to clients.

That helped commodity-linked currencies come roaring back to life after steep losses following the Doha deal breakdown.

The Australian dollar was last up 0.4 per cent at US$0.7775 after earlier rising as high as US$0.7778, its highest since June. On Monday, it had skidded as low as US$0.7594.

The perceived safe-haven yen slumped in line with the recovery in risk appetite. The US dollar added 0.3 per cent to 109.12 yen, while the euro added 0.3 per cent to 123.35 yen, moving away from the previous session's three-year low.

Against the dollar, the euro edged down about 0.1 per cent to US$1.1306, as investors looked ahead to the European Central Bank's policy meeting on Thursday. While no change is expected, investors are awaiting Mario Draghi's news conference for clues on the central bank's thinking.

The US Federal Reserve will meet next week, and is also expected to hold pat on policy, though any suggestion that more hikes are on the way sooner rather than later would lift the greenback.

New York Fed president William Dudley said in a speech on Monday that economic conditions are "mostly favourable" yet the central bank remains cautious in raising interest rates because threats loom.

For the second time in as many weeks, Boston Fed president Eric Rosengren warned on Monday that futures markets, which see only one modest rate hike in each of the next few years, are off the mark.