Asian stocks climb as oil spurs commodities rally

SYDNEY (BLOOMBERG) - Asia-Pacific equities extended gains after a surge in oil lifted US stock indexes to fresh highs on Tuesday (May 16). The US dollar weakened for a fifth straight day.

Stock benchmark indexes in Australia and Japan climbed, offsetting losses in China shares, after the S&P 500 Index closed above 2,400 for the first time. Crude rose for a fifth day, topping US$49 a barrel, after Saudi Arabia and Russia supported an extension of output cuts. The yen strengthened with the Mexican peso and South Korean won.

The surge in oil is helping keep the global equities rally alive even as concern grows over the strength of the global economy. Chinese industrial production and retail data came in weaker than expected Monday, after American retail sales and inflation also cast a shadow on growth. Financial markets have also gotten a boost from China's sweeping plan to boost global infrastructure.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index increased 0.2 per cent as of 10:54am in Tokyo, heading for the highest closing level since May 2015.

Japan's Topix rose 0.3 per cent, while the Nikkei 225 Stock Average climbed to within 2 points of reaching 20,000 before pulling back. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 climbed 0.2 per cent.

China shares traded in Hong Kong retreated 0.6 per cent after surging 1.6 per cent on Monday amid optimism over Beijing's infrastructure spending programme. The Shanghai Composite Index slumped 0.7 per cent and the Hang Seng Index lost 0.3 per cent.

Futures on the S&P 500 Index were little changed after the benchmark gauge advanced 0.5 per cent on Monday.

Oil added 0.6 per cent to US$49.12 a barrel, after surging 2.1 per cent on Monday.

Gold gained 0.3 per cent to US$1,234.61 an ounce, rising for a fourth straight sessions.

The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index slid 0.1 per cent, falling for a fifth day.

The yen rose 0.2 per cent to 113.52 per dollar, after dropping 0.4 per cent on Monday. The South Korean won increased 0.4 per cent to the highest since April 4, while the Mexican peso added 0.3 per cent.