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Asia: Stocks up as Wall Street rally calms markets, dollar surges

Asian shares rebounded on Friday, led by strong gains for battered Chinese stocks after China suspended its market circuit breaker system and set a firmer midpoint rate for yuan trading for the first time in nine days.

[TOKYO] Asian stocks rose on Thursday as a sharp rebound on Wall Street helped soothe investors' tattered nerves, while the dollar rallied as risk aversion eased.

Stock markets around the world had tumbled earlier in the week as a slump in Shanghai shares fueled worries over China's economic health, but some calm returned after Beijing rolled out strong policy easing steps late on Tuesday.

Japanese and South Korean stocks gained strongly on Wednesday after U.S. stocks racked up their biggest one-day gain in four years.

Ironically, US stocks rallied on Wednesday on expectations that the Federal Reserve will hold off from hiking interest rates next month due to mounting global uncertainties, including China - the very factors that prompted heavy selling in the previous sessions.

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The Dow jumped 4 per cent and the S&P 500 rose 3.9 per cent.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.4 per cent early on Thursday, pulling away from a three-year low hit earlier in the week.

Tokyo's Nikkei rose 2 per cent and added to the previous day's 3.2 per cent gain, while South Korea's Kospi climbed 0.7 per cent. Australian shares advanced 0.7 per cent.

Still, investors remained uneasy, with European shares remaining highly sensitive to angst over Chinese growth and sliding nearly 2 per cent overnight.

Chinese shares, the epicentre of recent financial market tremors, failed to rally on Wednesday and ended lower in spite of the People's Bank of China's (PBOC) decision to cut the benchmark bank lending rate and relax reserve requirements for large banks.

A fresh slide in China's equities and worries that China may allow a further depreciation of the yuan risked hampering a recovery in other riskier assets in Asia and beyond. "Rather than getting ahead of the game with a well thought out plan for stabilising the economy, the PBOC appears to be reluctantly easing policy any time there's a drop in share prices," wrote Jasper, market analyst at CMC Markets. "The net effect is that markets clamour for more stimulus while at the same time losing faith it will actually work." In currencies, the dollar dipped briefly overnight after New York Fed President William Dudley said the prospect of a September rate hike "seems less compelling" than it was only weeks ago given the threat posed to the US economy by recent market turmoil.

However, he warned about overreacting to "short-term" market moves, and left the door ajar to raising rates when the US central bank holds a policy meeting on Sept 16-17.

But the greenback soon rallied as ebbing risk aversion reduced demand for the yen and euro, which had been sought as safe havens during the recent equity selling.

The greenback gained additional boost on upbeat US durable orders data.

Against the Japanese currency, the greenback fetched 120.07 yen, recovering from a seven-month low of 116.15 plumbed on Monday The euro was little changed at US$1.1335 after losing 1.7 per cent overnight, knocked further away from a seven-month peak of US$1.1715 scaled on Monday.

The common currency was also hurt by comments from a senior European Central Bank official. Peter Praet said the risk of the ECB missing its inflation target has increased due to commodity price falls and weakness in some overseas economies.

Crude oil rebounded amid a general thaw in global risk aversion. US crude futures bounced 1.8 per cent to US$39.28 a barrel. The contracts had slumped to a 6-1/2-year low on Monday, dogged by supply glut woes and worries of a hard landing by China's economy.

Gold slid as the dollar rebounded and US stocks rallied. Spot gold inched down to US$1,124.86 an ounce. The precious metal has lost 3 per cent so far this week.