Asian stocks extend global rally; oil pulls back

A customer looking at an electronic stock board at a securities firm in Shanghai, China, on July 1, 2013. -- PHOTO: BLOOMBERG
A customer looking at an electronic stock board at a securities firm in Shanghai, China, on July 1, 2013. -- PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

TOKYO (Bloomberg) - Asian stocks climbed, as materials shares in the region headed for their steepest jump since 2012, even as crude oil retreated from a one-month high. New Zealand's dollar advanced along with emerging-market currencies.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index gained 1.4 per cent by 10:07 a.m. in Tokyo, as a sub-index of materials producers increased 2.7 per cent, led by Australian mining companies. Japan's Topix index rose 2 per cent, while Standard & Poor's 500 Index futures were little changed.

U.S. oil fell 1.9 per cent after soaring 7 per cent Tuesday, when Brent crude entered a bull market.

New Zealand's dollar climbed after the central bank chief signaled interest rates will be on hold for some time, and the Korean won gained at least 0.3 per cent with the offshore-traded yuan.

Global stocks have erased 2015 losses this week, as crude's steepest four-day rally in six years raised the prospect that prices, which are still down about 50 per cent since June, have bottomed. Data Wednesday may show oil stockpiles in the U.S., the world's No. 1 consumer of the commodity, rose last week, reasserting concern over a supply glut. Measures of services industries from China to Europe and the U.S. are due, while Japan's Toyota Motor Corp. posts quarterly earnings.

The Topix rose for the first time in three days, set for its biggest one-day gain since Dec. 19, as Toyota rallied 1.9 per cent before reporting. The Kospi index in Seoul climbed 0.9 per cent.

The Straits Times Index was up 16.65 points, or 0.49 per cent, to 3,424.67 as at 9:35am.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 Index climbed for a 10th straight day, extending its longest rally since August 2013 to be headed for its highest close since May 2008, after policy makers in Australia reduced their key rate to a record-low 2.25 per cent on Tuesday. BHP Billiton Ltd., the world's biggest mining company and Australia's top oil and gas producer, advanced 4.5 per cent, the most since July 2009. Fortescue Metals Group Co. jumped 9.7 percent to lead gains in the MSCI Asia-Pacific Materials Index.

The won gained 0.7 percent to 1,089.99 per dollar while Malaysia's ringgit soared 1.7 percent from Friday, with local markets shut Monday and Tuesday. Russian ruble forwards climbed 1.1 per cent in a fourth day of gains.

The yuan gained 0.2 percent to 6.2558 per dollar in the offshore market, set for its biggest one-day gain this year. The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index, which tracks the U.S. currency versus 10 major peers, slid 0.9 per cent on Tuesday, its steepest one-day drop since October. It was up 0.1 percent Wednesday.

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