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Most Asian stocks rally while yen holds climb; crude pares surge


[WELLINGTON] Asian stocks outside Japan rose, paring weekly losses as US equity-index futures advanced. The yen held gains after inflation slowed more than forecast, while crude oil fell, trimming its best weekly climb since 2011.

The MSCI Asia Pacific excluding Japan Index added 0.1 per cent by 9.28 am in Tokyo, reducing its retreat in the week to 0.2 per cent. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 Index rebounded from its worst day this year, while Japan's Topix index headed for its first weekly decline since mid-January with the yen near a five- week high. Standard & Poor's 500 Index futures climbed 0.2 per cent following the gauge's longest slump since January. US oil slipped 1 per cent, paring its 11 per cent jump in the week.

Core inflation in Japan slowed to 2 per cent in February, trailing the 2.1 per cent projected by economists. Retail trade data is also due Friday, while China reports on industrial company profits before an update on fourth-quarter US growth. Mixed data in the past week has fueled concern over the American economy as analysts predict the forthcoming earnings season will see the first contraction in profits since 2009. Yemen has emerged as the latest ground for a proxy fight between Iran and Saudi Arabia, the world's top oil exporter.

"While we've got no actual supply disruption it's pretty clear that the market is focused on the potential here, which is enormous," Michael McCarthy, a chief markets strategist at CMC Markets in Sydney, said by phone, referring to the situation in Yemen. "We're likely to see a further increase in volatility as the price reacts to developments."