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Asia: Stocks fluctuate as brent halts slide; Rupiah strengthens


[SYDNEY] Asian shares swung on low volume after a late surge in US stocks on the prospect of more stimulus from China. Australian bonds extended gains, while Brent oil halted its slide at an 11-year low.

Equities from Singapore to Sydney advanced while those in Seoul fell. Futures on the Standard & Poor's 500 Index gained 0.1 per cent after the gauge rebounded from its biggest two-day loss in three months.

 Australia's bonds rallied for a fourth day, tracking gains in Treasuries, and Indonesia's rupiah rose to a one-month high. A gauge of the dollar headed for its biggest monthly drop in eight months before a report forecast to show the US economy grew less than previously estimated in the third quarter.

 Commodities currencies held advances and metals in Shanghai tracked Monday's gains in London after China's government said monetary policy must be more "flexible" and fiscal policy more "forceful" to combat slowing growth in the world's second- largest economy.

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The rout in crude prices has pushed oil to the lowest levels since before the financial crisis, threatening to keep inflation from rising to levels targeted by central banks in Europe and America.

"We've had easing on multiple fronts in China and we are starting to see the green shoots of recovery there," said Nader Naeimi, Sydney-based head of dynamic markets at AMP Capital Investors Ltd, which oversees about US$114 billion.

"We should see China's economy turn the corner in 2016 and the US dollar peaking, which will have a powerful positive impact on commodities and related sectors."

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index was little changed as of 11.02am Tokyo time, as the Topix swung between a 0.4 per cent gain and a 0.3 percent drop.

Singapore's Straits Times index rose 0.2 per cent while Australia's S&P/ASX 200 Index climbed 0.1 per cent, adding to a 4.1 per cent surge over the previous four sessions. Volume was 39 per cent below the 30-day intraday average. New Zealand's S&P/NZX 50 Index added 0.3 per cent while the Kospi index in Seoul slipped 0.4 per cent.

The S&P 500 surged in the final minutes of trading on Monday, paced by financial and technology companies, while raw- materials firms also gained on China stimulus prospects.

"Equity valuations are still compelling," said George Boubouras, chief investment officer at Contango Asset Management in Melbourne. "We expect lighter volumes going into Christmas this week. Relative valuations are still there," favoring stocks, he said.