Asian markets track global surge on oil deal hopes

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AFP

HONG KONG — Energy firms led an Asian stock market rally Wednesday as strong trade data from China and news of a deal between Russia and Saudi Arabia to limit oil output injected much-needed optimism. The renewed confidence also saw the safe-haven yen retreat against the dollar, having soared more than 5 percent since the start of the month. U.S. and European equities provided a perfect lead with healthy gains, after Russian news agency Interfax said Moscow and Riyadh had reached “consensus” on freezing oil output before a key producers’ meeting. While most market-watchers say nations must actually cut production to have any lasting impact, the news raised hopes that at least a global glut — which saw prices plunge 75 percent from mid-2014 to February — can be addressed. Major players from inside and outside the OPEC producers’ club are due to meet in Doha Sunday to discuss the crude crisis, which has hammered some of the world’s biggest energy companies and oil-exporter nations. The two main oil contracts surged more than four percent to 2016 highs on the report, although they retreated Wednesday on profit-taking. Energy firms were the main gainers in Asia. Hong Kong-listed CNOOC rallied 6.2 percent and PetroChina rocketed 7.2 percent. In Sydney Woodside Petroleum was 3 percent higher and Rio Tinto up 4.5 percent.

Japan’s Inpex added 3.9 percent. The gains fed through to the wider stock markets, with Tokyo soaring 2.8 percent by the close. Hong Kong surged 3.2 percent and Sydney ended 1.3 percent higher. European markets, which rallied Tuesday, extended gains soon after the open with London 0.9 percent up, while Frankfurt and Paris each added 1.4 percent. The International Monetary Fund’s decision to cut its global growth outlook and issue a warning that activity has been “too slow for too long” seemed to have little impact.