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Asia: Shares rally on return from holiday


[HONG KONG] Asian markets advanced on Tuesday as most reopened after a long holiday weekend, giving their first reaction to last week's soft US jobs data that has dampened expectations for a Federal Reserve interest rate hike.

Wall Street provided a positive lead as comments from a Fed official suggesting any increase in the US rate will likely be slow, while investors await the release of minutes from the bank's latest meeting.

Tokyo rose 0.67 per cent as the yen eased against the dollar, and Sydney climbed 1.31 per cent ahead of a Reserve Bank of Australia policy meeting that is tipped to see another interest rate cut.

Seoul added 0.18 per cent, lifted by Samsung after it flagged better-than-expected first quarter profits, while Shanghai put on 1.21 per cent. Hong Kong was closed for a public holiday.

The US Labour Department said Friday the economy added just 126,000 jobs in March, half of what was expected and the weakest growth since December 2013.

While the data indicates a US slowdown, investors were cheered as it means the Fed will likely not announce any rate rise until later in the year.

The Dow climbed 0.66 per cent, the S&P 500 also rose 0.66 per cent and the Nasdaq put on 0.62 per cent.

Meanwhile, New York Fed President William Dudley said once they do go up, the pace of rate increases is likely to be "shallow".

The news initially pushed the dollar lower against the yen but it recovered Tuesday. In early trade in Tokyo the greenback was at 119.58 yen, compared with 119.52 yen in New York and well up from 119.05 yen in Tokyo earlier Monday.

The euro bought US$1.0936 and 130.78 yen on Tuesday against US$1.0928 and 130.60 yen in US trade.

"Investors appeared to support a slower Fed rate lifting regime," Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist in Sydney at CMC Markets, said according to Bloomberg News, before adding "but this enthusiasm could be short lived as the ramifications of a lower recovery sink in".

Oil prices edged down after surging Monday in US trade on doubts that last week's nuclear agreement between Iran and global powers will lift crude supplies soon.

"There is a realisation Iranian oil is not going to flow in the world market for quite some time," said Bart Melek, head of commodity strategy at TD Securities.

US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for May delivery fell 38 cents to US$51.76 and Brent crude for May tumbled 45 cents to US$57.67 in mid-morning trade.

WTI jumped US$3 and Brent surged US$3.17 on Monday.

Gold fetched US$1,212.46 against US$1,219.54 late Monday.