By Shinichi Saoshiro
TOKYO (Reuters) – Asian stocks gained early on Monday, relieved after seeing Wall Street rally overnight on the back of a sharp rise in crude oil prices.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan <.MIAPJ0000PUS> nudged up 0.2 percent, putting further distance between a four-year low plumbed last week. Australian shares <.AXJO> were up 1 percent.
p> The S&P 500 <.SPX> rose 2 percent & the Dow <.DJI> added 1.3 percent Friday as a cold snap in North America & Europe caused a rally in oil prices. The S&P energy sector <.SPNY> surged 4.3 percent.
Global equities were moreover boosted last week as the European Central Bank signaled additional monetary easing steps to come, & focus fell on the Federal Reserve & Bank of Japan meetings this week.
From the Fed, investors will look for any hints of when a second interest rate hike would come, while speculation mounted last week toward the BOJ implementing additional easing measures.
"The calendar this week is busy, with the Federal Open Market Committee & BOJ meetings the main highlights. We expect no action from the Fed or BOJ, although investors will be looking for a more dovish forward bias as the renewed decline in oil prices lowers inflation expectations globally," wrote strategists at Barclays.
Risk aversion amid fears of a China-led global slowdown & oil prices sinking to 13-year lows had rocked global markets at the start of the year, & the lull in flight-to-quality seen toward the end of last week weighed on safe havens like U.S. Treasuries & the Japanese yen.
The dollar was steady at 118.75 yen after surging 0.9 percent on Friday, when it touched a two-week high of 118.88. The euro was steady at $1.0792 after losing 0.8 percent on Friday.
The Australian dollar, sensitive to the ebb & flow in risk appetite & fluctuations in commodity prices, traded at $0.7007 after touching a nine-day high of $0.7046 on Friday.
Crude, recently under pressure from a global glut, jumped percent as harsh winter weather boosted demand for heating oil. U.S. crude climbed 9 percent & Brent bounced 10 percent on Friday.
U.S. crude was last down 0.2 percent at $32.13 a barrel. The contracts had descended to as low as $26.19 last week, their lowest since May 2003.
(Reporting by Shinichi Saoshiro; Editing by Eric Meijer)
Stocks & OfferingsFinancecrude oil prices