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Asia: Markets mostly up on revived confidence


[HONG KONG] Asia stocks mostly rose on Wednesday following gains on Wall Street and Europe as a little confidence returns to trading floors after last week's sharp sell-offs.

A jump in oil prices also helped energy firms as fears over the possible effects of Canada's wildfires on output abated, while emerging market currencies advanced on the back of demand for riskier investments.

Markets in Europe and New York ended deep in positive territory Tuesday following a better-than-expected Chinese inflation report and progress on agreeing Greece's latest batch of bailout cash.

The gains extended into Asia, with Tokyo's Nikkei ending the morning 0.3 percent higher thanks to a weaker yen boosting exporters.

Analysts say comments from Japanese leaders, including Finance Minister Taro Aso, kept the possibility of government intervention on the table, helping weigh on the currency.

"Talk of intervention from Japan is one catalyst pushing the yen lower," Masato Yanagiya, head of currency and money trading at Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp in New York told Bloomberg News.

In early trade the dollar bought 108.76 yen, from 109.27 yen New York but still up from the levels around 108.40 yen seen earlier Tuesday in Asia.

Among other markets, Shanghai was up 0.2 per cent and Sydney rose 0.6 per cent. Manila soared almost three per cent as the controversial Rodrigo Duterte tried soothe investor worries after his landslide victory in presidential elections Monday.

However, Hong Kong slipped 0.8 per cent as mainland shares listed in the city were hit by fears China may not introduce any fresh stimulus for some time after a high-profile warning over debt levels by the People's Daily government mouthpiece.

Energy firms were in positive territory after oil surged on Tuesday. Sydney-listed BHP Billiton and Woodside Petroleum enjoyed healthy gains, while CNOOC and PetroChina in Hong Kong bucked the downward trend in Hong Kong.

Analysts pointed to data showing producer giant Nigeria's output had hit a 22-year low because of a pipeline sabotage and increasing unrest.

West Texas Intermediate soared 2.8 per cent and Brent climbed 4.3 per cent. The two contracts had plunged Monday as the blazes that had threatened Canada's crude reserves seemed to be over and officials said production could return to normal.

In early trade Wednesday Brent and WTI were each down 0.4 per cent.

In Europe, eurozone finance ministers agreed Monday to reach an agreement on debt relief and unlocking bailout cash for Greece by May 24 after Athens passed tough reforms that were prerequisite of a deal.

The 19 ministers meeting in Brussels are now expected to sign off within days on the release of 5.4 billion euros in fresh money for Athens, averting a possible default that has loomed over the eurozone.