TOKYO Asian shares inched higher on Tuesday after global oil prices soared to three-month highs on growing hopes of more coordinated measures from oil-producing countries to stem tumbling prices.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS rose 0.1 percent in early trade while Japan's Nikkei .N225 bucked the trend and dipped 0.3 percent.
Global oil markets jumped more than 5 percent on Monday, with Brent hitting a 2016 peak above $40 a barrel, after Ecuador said it was holding a meeting of Latin American crude producers as OPEC sought a higher anchor price for oil.
Ecuador's Foreign Minister Guillaume Long said his government will host a meeting in Quito on Friday with Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador and Mexico "to reach consensus over oil, especially prices."
"At least oil producing countries no longer appear to be competing for market shares. There may not be an output cut but there will likely be an output freeze at least. Because bets against oil were so large early this year now we are seeing a bit of unwinding in that position," said Koichi Yoshikawa, executive director of financial markets at Standard Chartered Bank in Tokyo.
Brent crude futures LCOc1 jumped to as high as $41.04 per barrel on Monday, extending their recovery from a 12-year trough of $27.10 hit in January.
U.S. crude futures CLc1 also rose to $38.11 per barrel, its highest since early January.
Further improving the mood in the battered commodity sector, spot iron ore price .IO62-CNI=SI surged almost 20 percent , hitting a nine-month high.
The big jump in energy and commodity prices have boosted various assets that have taken a hit in recent months, especially as concerns about weak energy and commodity markets played into broader fears of slowing global economic growth.
On Wall Street, the S&P 500 energy sector .SPNY rose 2.4 percent while weakness in the tech sector offset gains in the overall market.
In the currency market, investors rushed back to commodity-linked currencies, sending the Australian dollar AUD=D4 to as high as $0.7486 on Monday, its highest in almost eight months.
The Aussie last stood at $0.7456.
The Canadian dollar CAD=D4 also firmed to a 3-1/2-month high of C$1.3262 per U.S. dollar and last stood at C$1.3290.
While the dollar was soft in general, major currencies saw limited moves.
The euro EUR= traded at $1.1015, holding near one-week highs of $1.10435, ahead of the European Central Bank's policy announcement on Thursday.
Many investors expect the ECB to cut its deposit rates further into negative territory and possibly step up its asset purchases.
The yen JPY= maintained slight gains made on Monday to trade at 113.33 yen to the dollar.
The currency hardly moved in response to data showing Japan's economy shrank an annualised 1.1 percent in October-December, slightly less than an initial estimate of a 1.4 percent contraction
The dollar's weakness helped to underpin gold XAU=, which hit a 13-month high of $1,280 per ounce on Monday and last stood at $1,266.
A big focus in Asia is on China's trade data due later in the day.
(Editing by Shri Navaratnam)
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Published Date: Mar 08, 2016 06:45 am | Updated Date: Mar 08, 2016 06:45 am