Asian Stocks Rise, Buoyed by U.S. Stock Gains and Weaker Yen

MANILA, Philippines (AP) -
Men walk past an electronic board showing Japan's Nikkei average outside a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan January 20, 2016. Japan's benchmark Nikkei share average tumbled to a fresh 14-1/2 month low on Wednesday as global markets were battered by plunging crude prices that slid to nearly $27 a barrel in the U.S. REUTERS/Toru Hanai
Men walk past an electronic board showing Japan’s Nikkei average outside a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan. (Reuters/Toru Hanai)

Asian stocks rallied Thursday, lifted by a rise in U.S. stocks following an uptick in oil prices. A weakening of the Japanese yen pushed Tokyo’s benchmark higher.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 surged 2.7 percent to 17,361.99, as exporters’ shares gained, since a weaker yen usually tends to boost their profits. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng climbed 1.6 percent to 21,575.17. The Shanghai Composite index shed early gains and was down 0.1 percent to 2,969.14. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.9 percent to 5,329.1. South Korea’s KOSPI added 0.7 percent to 2,018.97. Southeast Asian markets were higher.

Financial and energy companies led a modest increase in U.S. stocks Wednesday, giving the stock market its third gain in a row after oil prices climbed 4 percent. When oil prices rise they tend to favor battered energy stocks and financial companies such as banks, which have been in the doldrums due to investor concerns that loans to struggling oil companies could go bad. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 42.67 points, or 0.2 percent, to 18,096.27. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index added 1.60 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,102.40. The Nasdaq composite index gained 7.80 points, or 0.2 percent, to 4,948.13. The Dow is now up almost 4 percent for the year, while the S&P 500 is up about 3 percent. The Nasdaq narrowed its loss to 1.2 percent.

“Asian markets are breaking out,” said Chris Weston, IG Chief Market Strategist. “Bulk commodities and oil are flying. This can’t go on forever, but it’s a freight train and not one I am prepared to get in front of.”

Benchmark U.S. crude oil gained 17 cents to $44.35 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange after a settlement of $44.18 a barrel on Wednesday. Brent crude, the international standard, rose 24 cents to $46.04 a barrel.

The euro fell to $1.1297 from $1.1303 on Wednesday. The dollar fell to 109.65 yen from 109.85 yen.