Asian stocks rise as export data boosts Chinese markets

TOKYO - Asian shares rose Wednesday as Shanghai's market stabilized for a second day and Chinese export figures improved. Investors also were cheered by gains on Wall Street that snapped a losing streak, including an eight-day slump for the Nasdaq composite.

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KEEPING SCORE: Japan's Nikkei 225 stock index jumped 2.7 per cent to 17,682.33 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng was up 2.5 per cent to 20,204.74. South Korea's Kospi added 1.4 per cent to 1,916.57. The Shanghai Composite rose 0.9 per cent to 3,048.64 and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 gained 1.0 per cent to 4,975.60. Shares in Southeast Asia and New Zealand also were higher.

CHINA TURMOIL: After a tumultuous start to the year for Chinese stocks and the yuan, both those markets showed tentative stability, likely at least partly due to government efforts to control fluctuations in the yuan. Global markets were rattled by steep falls in Chinese stocks and a bigger than usual drop in the tightly controlled yuan. Some analysts and investors interpreted those gyrations as signs officials were having difficulty managing the slowdown in the world's No. 2 economy.

OIL PRICES: Crude oil prices tumbled overnight but bounced higher Wednesday in Asia. While the factors that have driven prices nearly 18 per cent lower this year are a concern, and are hurting exporters and energy company shares, lower oil and gas costs are a boon for many resource-scarce Asian economies.

CHINA DATA: China's exports rose 2.3 per cent in December from a year earlier in yuan terms, reversing a 3.7 per cent drop in November, the Finance Ministry reported Wednesday. Exports were down in dollar terms but the decrease was smaller than November's. The data suggest a weakening in the yuan may be helping boost demand for Chinese products, providing welcome support for the slowing economy.

THE QUOTE: "I expect to see buyers filtering through Asia today to support the downsides, based on the positive leads from the Street. However, the upside space remains limited as there are few good news or data to cheer about," Bernard Aw of IG said in a commentary.

WALL STREET: Shares were lower for most of the day but then regained lost ground in the last hour of trading. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 117.65 points, or 0.7 per cent, to 16,516.22. The Standard & Poor's 500 index added 15.01 points, or 0.8 per cent, to 1,938.68. The Nasdaq composite climbed 47.93 points, or 1 per cent, to 4,685.92.

ENERGY: U.S. crude oil rose 22 cents, or 0.7 per cent, to $30.65 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. On Tuesday, it lost 97 cents, or 3.1 per cent, to $30.44 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils, rose 18 cents, or 0.6 per cent, to $31.13. It fell 69 cents, or 2.2 per cent, to $30.86 a barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 118.23 yen from 117.89 yen in the previous trading session. The euro fell to $1.0813 from $1.0834.



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