Hong Kong: Asian markets saw a mild bounce on Thursday after suffering heavy selling pressure this week, but traders remained on edge ahead of a possible military strike on Syria.
The dollar also benefited as fears eased over the impact of an attack on the Middle Eastern country, which is accused of using chemical weapons on its own people.
India’s rupee rose to 67.34 against the dollar, compared with its record low of 68.83 on Wednesday, after the country’s central bank announced a new move to increase the supply of dollars and curb volatility.
Tokyo rose 0.91%, or 121.25 points, to 13,459.71, while Sydney added 0.10%, or 5.2 points, to close at 5,092.4 and Seoul advanced 1.22%, or 23.02 points, to 1,907.54.
Hong Kong climbed 0.84%, or 180.13 points, to 21,704.78, but Shanghai fell 0.19%, or 4.07 points, to 2,097.23.
Buying sentiment was given a boost by a rally on Wall Street, which ended three days of losses, as energy companies benefited from a surge in oil prices.
The Dow rose 0.34%, the S&P 500 climbed 0.29% and the Nasdaq added 0.41%.
US President Barack Obama, who had warned the use of chemical weapons by Syria would cross a “red line”, said Washington had definitively concluded that the Assad regime was to blame for last week’s attack that killed hundreds of people.
However, he said Wednesday he had not yet decided whether to strike.
His comments, which were more cautious than recent statements, come as political uproar in London cast doubt on whether Britain would join any such action.
Kengo Suzuki, forex strategist at Mizuho Securities, told Dow Jones Newswires: “Excessive risk aversion is unwinding.”
Anxiety about Syria initially caused the dollar to weaken earlier this week as investors bought alternative safe-haven currencies including the Swiss franc and yen.
“I think the general feeling is that the US won’t be as heavily involved in Syria as it was when it invaded Iraq back in 2003,” he said.
Crude prices edged lower after surging Wednesday on fears of a supply shortage in the oil-rich Middle East caused by any military intervention.
New York’s main contract, West Texas Intermediate for delivery in October, was down $1.31 at $108.79 a barrel after spiking at a two-year high of $112.24 the previous day.
Brent North Sea crude for October shed $1.48 to $115.13. The contract peaked at a six-month high of $117.34 Wednesday.
Thursday’s pick-up also provided some respite for stocks in emerging markets, which have been hammered in recent weeks on expectations of an end to the Fed’s stimulus, which has fuelled an investment splurge in the region over the past year.
Jakarta closed higher 1.92%, or 77.12 points, at 4,103.59, and Kuala Lumpur stocks gained 17.61 points, or 1.04%, to close at 1,703.78.
Manila jumped 3.59%, or 206.15 points, to close at 5,944.21 after data showed the Philippine economy expanded 7.5% year on year in the April-June quarter.
Mumbai jumped 2.25% or 404.89 points to 18,401.04 points as the rupee strengthened to the dollar.
The dollar bought 98.20 yen, compared with 97.72 yen in New York and well up from the low 97-yen levels in Tokyo Wednesday.
The euro fetched $1.3258 and 130.18 yen compared with $1.3341 and 130.36 yen.
Gold cost $1,409.96 an ounce, near a three-month high, at 1030 GMT, up from $1,422.90 late Wednesday.
In other markets:
—Taipei added 1.19%, or 93.12 points, to 7,917.66.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. gained 1.96% to Tw$98.7 while Hon Hai Precision was 0.63% higher at Tw$79.8.
Bangkok added 1.31% or 16.77 points to 1,292.53.
—Airports of Thailand gained 5.02% to 157.00 baht, while Delta Electronics jumped 7.45% to 43.25 baht.
—Wellington rose 0.24%, or 10.79 points, to 4,520.50.
Air New Zealand added 1.46% to NZ$1.39, Telecom climbed 1.82% to NZ$2.24 and The Warehouse was down 1.03% at NZ$3.84.
—Singapore gained 1.13%, or 33.85 points, to close at 3,038.03.
DBS Bank finished 0.76% higher at Sg$15.97 and property developer Capitaland climbed 2.73% to Sg$3.01. AFP