Asian stocks follow Wall Street higher as oil resumes rebound

SINGAPORE (Bloomberg) - Asian stocks followed U.S. equities higher, with the regional benchmark index extending its weekly advance, as materials and energy shares gained amid higher oil prices.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index rose 0.4 per cent to 142.14 as of 9:01 a.m. in Tokyo, heading for a 1.3 per cent increase this week after the Reserve Bank of Australia cut interest rates to a record low and China reduced banks' reserve ratios.

The European Central Bank will allow its Greek counterpart to provide as much as 59.5 billion euros in emergency funding for lenders, a euro-area central-bank official familiar with the decision said.

West Texas Intermediate crude futures climbed as much as 2 per cent on Friday (Feb 6) after rising 4.2 per cent on Thursday.

"Greece is still an issue but investors are choosing to focus on the positives," Tony Farnham, a strategist at Paterson Securities in Sydney, said by phone. "There would probably be a compromise, whether extending the repayment period on Greek debt or cutting interest rates. There's further upside in equities given the wave of global monetary easing by central banks."

Japan's Topix index added 0.8 per cent. South Korea's Kospi index slid 0.2 per cent. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 Index increased 0.4 per cent. Markets in Hong Kong and China have yet to open, while New Zealand is closed for a holiday.

The Shanghai Composite Index retreated 1.2 on Thursday after rallying as much as 2.4 per cent, as the cut in banks' reserve-ratio requirements failed to soothe investors' concern that the economic slowdown is deepening.

Futures on the Standard & Poor's 500 Index were little changed. The U.S. equity benchmark index added 1 per cent yesterday, erasing losses for the year, as oil resumed its rebound and Pfizer Inc. announced a US$17 billion deal.

Crude prices are swinging the most since April 2009 as producers reduce spending to keep U.S. production from growing beyond a three-decade high. Prices have moved an average of US$1.70 a day this year, up from 92 cents during the first 24 days of 2014.

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