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Asia shares gain as crude oil bounce boosts risk assets

Asia shares gain as crude oil bounce boosts risk assetsAsian stocks rose across the board on Thursday as crude oil extended gains on hopes that big producers will cap output, improving investor sentiment for riskier assets.

Spreadbetters expected a mixed open for European shares, with Britain's FTSE .FTSE seen dipping on some nervousness as British Prime Minister David Cameron holds "now or never" talks to keep his country in the European Union.

Germany's DAX .GDAXI and France's CAC .FCHI were forecast to open a touch higher.

Crude oil remained the main market driver. U.S. crude was up 2.1 percent at $31.34 a barrel following a 7 percent jump on Wednesday after Iran voiced support for a Russia-Saudi-led move to freeze production to deal with the market glut that had pushed prices to 12-year lows.

"While there has been some confusion as to whether 'support' equals action, oil traders are simply relieved that the world's fourth-largest holder of oil reserves is willing to cooperate," wrote Kathy Lien, managing director of FX strategy at BK Asset Management.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 1.8 percent, pulling further away from a three-week low struck last week when a widespread chill in risk appetite amid concern about the euro zone banking sector depressed equities globally.

Japan's Nikkei .N225 continued its recovery from last week's 16-month low and gained 3.0 percent, shrugging off the biggest drop in domestic exports since 2009.

Shanghai stocks .SSEC rose 0.6 percent, in muted reaction to data showing China's January consumer inflation quickening to 1.8 percent from the previous year.

Australian shares climbed 2.2 percent and South Korea's KOSPI .KS11 added 1.1 percent.

"Recovering oil prices have set the stage for an accelerated rebound in global stocks, while minutes from the FOMC supported the mood," said Rhoo Yong-seok, a stock analyst at Hyundai Securities.

Minutes of the January Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting released on Wednesday showed that policymakers worried about tighter global financial conditions hitting the U.S. economy and considered changing their planned path of interest rate hikes in 2016.

In currencies, the greenback dipped against the yen and euro on dovish comments from a top Fed official.

It would be "unwise" for the central bank to continue hiking rates given declining inflation expectations and recent equity market volatility, St. Louis Fed President James Bullard said late on Wednesday in comments that mark a stark change of direction for one of the Fed's more hawkish inflation foes.

The dollar slipped 0.1 percent to 113.98 yen JPY=, putting further distance between a peak of 114.875 touched earlier this week. The euro nudged up 0.1 percent to $1.1137 EUR=.

The Canadian dollar touched a two-week high of C$1.3655 CAD=D4.

The Australian dollar, another commodity-linked currency, was down 0.4 percent at $0.7153 AUD=D4 with weaker-than-expected local employment data slicing off a chunk of its overnight gains made on rallying oil.

Spot gold XAU= was nearly flat at $1,2089.00 an ounce. The precious metal had managed to snap a three-day losing streak on Wednesday after the Fed's meeting minutes showed policymakers had considered altering their rate hike path.

As the Fed embarked on its first rate hike in a decade late last year, the prospect of higher interest rates weighed on non-yielding gold and pushed prices to near six-year lows. But the metal rebounded to a one-year high of $1,260.60 an ounce last week in the wake of the turmoil in global markets.

In debt markets, higher equities and encouraging U.S. housing and industrial output data pushed the benchmark 10-year Treasury yield to a 9-day high of 1.8470 percent US10YT=RR on Wednesday. The 10-year note yielded 1.8104 percent in Asia.

Source: Reuters
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