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Asia: Stocks, currencies, oil rally after sell-off


[HONG KONG] Asian stocks rallied along with oil and high-yielding currencies in early trade Thursday, providing some respite from a rout that has sent global markets into a tailspin at the start of the year.

Hong Kong, Tokyo and Sydney led a broad advance across regional trading floors as investors picked up cheap assets following Wednesday's bloodbath, although fears of further volatility hung over their heads.

Analysts said US markets had provided a ray of hope, having slashed early losses with late bargain-buying.

However, Shanghai, which has given up around 16 per cent already this year, extended its downward spiral despite a huge injection of cash into financial markets by the Chinese central bank to ease liquidity fears.

Markets from Asia to the Americas have taken a hammering so far in 2016, chiefly hit by crashing oil prices and worries about the Chinese economy, which is a crucial driver of global growth.

News on Tuesday that China's 2015 growth hit forecasts provided a brief lift but the selling resumed with a vengeance the next day, characterising the extreme volatility that has marked the past weeks.

On Thursda,y Tokyo's Nikkei jumped 1.6 per cent by lunch, while Hong Kong was 1.1 per cent higher and Sydney gained more than one percent. There were also healthy advances in Singapore and Seoul.

Energy firms were beneficiaries of a rate uptick in crude markets. CNOOC in Hong Kong added two percent and PetroChina rose almost three percent, while Sydney-listed Santos surged 5.8 per cent and BHP Billiton was 1.9 per cent up.

While oil prices edged up, they are still wallowing at more than 12-year lows as the commodity comes under pressure from a worldwide glut, weak demand, overproduction and a strong dollar.

US benchmark West Texas Intermediate - which fell below US$27 briefly Wednesday - was 1.3 per cent higher at US$28.72. And Brent crude was up 1.4 per cent at US$28.28, days after ducking under US$28.

On currency markets, under-pressure emerging market units bounced back against the greenback as traders found a little confidence to buy into riskier assets with better returns.

The Australian dollar was 0.3 per cent higher, South Korea's won gained 0.4 per cent and the Indonesian rupiah added 0.6 per cent. The oil-dependent Malaysian ringgit put on 0.4 per cent.