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Asia: Shares extend gains as investor fears ease


[TOKYO] Asian shares extended their gains on Tuesday as a combination of stabilising Chinese markets, a rebound in oil prices and solid US consumption data drove investors to look for bargains after last week's rout.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan gained 0.6 per cent, with Chinese bank shares leading the gains after a surprise jump in China's bank lending data.

Mainland Chinese shares also rose 2.5 per cent to three-week highs.

Japan's Nikkei rose 0.9 per cent after a 7.2 per cent climb on Monday, recovering a sizable part of its 11 percent slump last week - its biggest since 2008.

On Monday, European stocks rose 2.9 per cent, having shed nearly 10 per cent over the last two weeks. US financial markets were closed for a national holiday but globally-traded US stock futures rose 1.5 per cent. "It is partly a reaction after such big falls last week.

Solid US data is also improving investor sentiment given that they are counting on US growth to lead the global economy,"said Hirokazu Kabeya, chief global strategist at Daiwa Securities.

US retail sales data published on Friday showing firm growth allayed fears - at least for now - that the US economy could be dragged into recession as growth stumbles in many parts of the world.

Sentiment on the US currency also improved, with the dollar rising to 114.65 yen, recovering further from a 15-month low of 110.985 touched on Thursday.

The euro also eased to as low as US$1.1128 on Monday, retreating from Thursday's 3 1/2-month high of US$1.1377, and last stood at US$1.1173.

The common currency was also driven lower by remarks from European Central Bank President Mario Draghi that the bank is ready to ease policy further in March.

Gold extended fall from Thursday's one-year peak of US$1,262.90 per ounce as safe-haven buying in the precious metal in recent weeks was rolled back.

It fell 0.6 per cent to US$1,203.90, unable to find a floor after 2.2 per cent on Monday, which was its biggest fall in almost seven months.

Oil prices gained on news of a rare private meeting of top officials from the world's biggest oil producers spurred speculation of an eventual deal to tackle a deep supply glut.

Global benchmark Brent futures rose 3.3 per cent to US$34.48 a barrel, rising to their highest level in a week. U.S. crude futures also jumped back above US$30.

As risk sentiment improved, yields on top-rated government bond rose, with the 10-year US Treasuries yield rising 4.7 basis points to 1.793 per cent from 1.746 per cent at the end of last week.

In Japan, the Bank of Japan started implementing negative interest rates on Tuesday. The benchmark interbank lending rate fell to zero per cent but not to negative levels partly because some banks have not fixed their system to deal with negative rates.