HONG KONG (AFP) -Asian shares rose Tuesday, with energy firms clawing back some losses as oil prices recovered from multi-year lows, while Shanghai surged to a three-year high on hopes for more Chinese government easing.
The Russian ruble strengthened slightly against the dollar after suffering its worst one-day fall in 16 years, battered by falling crude prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine.
Tokyo added 0.42 per cent, or 73.12 points, to end at a seven-year high of 17,663.22. Analysts said dealers were broadly unfazed by a Moody’s decision to downgrade Japan’s credit rating.
Sydney jumped 1.41 per cent, or 73.6 points, to close at 5,281.3, boosted by the rally in energy firms after their huge losses in the previous two sessions.
Seoul ended flat, edging up 0.61 points to 1,965.83 while Shanghai soared 3.11 per cent, or 83.39 points, to 2,763.55 – its highest since July 2011.
Hong Kong was up 1.34 per cent in late trade.
Oil prices edged down in Asia but were still well off their five-year lows touched on Monday before recovering on bargain-buying.
In early trade US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for January delivery fell 46 cents to $68.54 while Brent crude for January was down 41 cents to $72.1.
Both contracts rallied late Monday to pare earlier losses that had seen WTI hit a trough of $63.72 and Brent touch $67.53.
Prices have plummeted since Thursday’s decision by the OPEC oil cartel to maintain existing output levels despite a global supply glut.
While prices are edging down again, energy giants enjoyed some buying interest after a painful sell-off on Friday and Monday.
Sydney-listed BHP Billiton rose 3.9 per cent, Woodside added 1.9 per cent and Santos gained 0.9 per cent, while in Hong Kong PetroChina was up 2.5 per cent and CNOOC gained 1.5 per cent.
However airlines, whose main cost is fuel, suffered losses after recent advances. Cathay Pacific in Hong Kong dipped 1.8 per cent and Seoul-based Korean Airlines shed 2.3 per cent.
On currency markets the ruble edged up slightly to 51.20 against the dollar from 52.00. On Monday the Russian unit plunged almost nine per cent to 53.9 against the greenback, its worst one-day fall since the country’s 1998 debt crisis.
It has now fallen nearly 60 per cent against the dollar since the start of this year due to collapsing oil prices and Western sanctions over Russia’s support for a separatist uprising in eastern Ukraine.
In other forex trading, the dollar was at 118.67 yen against 118.40 yen in New York Monday.
The euro sat at 147.80 yen compared with 147.64 yen, while it bought $1.2453 against $1.2469.
Shunichi Otsuka, general manager of research and strategy at Ichiyoshi Asset Management, said the yen and stocks were not badly hit by the Moody’s downgrade Monday. The ratings agency cited Tokyo’s debt problems and the government’s faltering efforts to boost the economy.
“Little of Japan’s debt is held by foreigners, so unless there is a surprise upward impact on interest rates, the picture for equity investing should not be much harmed,” Otsuka told Dow Jones Newswires.
“Any softness in today’s market should not be directly attributable to the downgrade.”
Shares in Hong Kong and Shanghai were boosted by hopes that Monday’s weak index of manufacturing activity in China will prompt the country’s leaders to unleash fresh stimulus measures, after the central bank last month announced a shock interest rate cut.
Wall Street provided a limp lead as US investors ran for the sidelines Monday after the Thanksgiving holiday weekend saw disappointing sales on the key Black Friday retail day, which officially kicks off the Christmas shopping season. The Dow eased 0.27 per cent, the S&P 500 fell 0.68 per cent and the Nasdaq sank 1.34 per cent.
Gold was at $1,206.86 an ounce Tuesday, compared with $1,156.80 late Monday.