May 4, 2020 / 11:59 PM / 25 days ago

Asian stocks, oil higher as economies emerge from lockdown

HONG KONG/NEW YORK (Reuters) - Asian stocks rose on Tuesday, tracking a late Wall Street rally as governments eased coronavirus lockdowns while oil extended gains on expectations fuel demand would begin to pick up.

FILE PHOTO: Employees of the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE) work at the bourse in Tokyo Japan, October 11, 2018. REUTERS/Issei Kato

Brent crude LCOc1 rose 4.3% to $28.37 a barrel, up for a sixth straight day, and U.S. crude CLc1 rose $1.38 to $21.77 a barrel, as countries began loosening coronavirus restrictions and crude supply cuts took effect.

“The market continues to price in the idea that things are improving,” said Gene McGillian, vice president of market research at Tradition Energy in Stamford, Connecticut.

In reduced trade, with China, Japan and South Korea on holiday, Australia's ASX 200 rose 1.26% and Hong Kong's Hang Seng .HSI climbed 0.66%.

U.S. stock futures ESc1 rose 0.75%.

The rally followed late U.S. gains with the S&P 500 .SPX ending up 0.42%, driven by technology names including Microsoft (MSFT.O), Apple (AAPL.O) and Amazon (AMZN.O).

Their strength overcame drops in airline shares of between 5% to 8% after legendary investor Warren Buffett said his Berkshire Hathaway (BRKa.N) had sold its carrier holdings.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS rose 0.56%.

The upturn came on more optimistic statements from the governors of California and New York for reopening businesses. Andrew Cuomo of New York on Monday outlined a phased reopening in the U.S. state hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Analysts at Commonwealth Bank of Australia said the structure of the oil price rises, with bigger gains in nearer-dated contracts, suggested expectations of more production cuts and a restoration of fuel demand later this year.

They added, though, that this meant prices are highly unlikely to recover the big falls since the start of the year.

The optimism about an economic recovery from the coronavirus outbreak outweighed, at least briefly, the latest war of words between China and the United States, which had dragged down Asian and European shares on Monday.

An internal Chinese report warns that Beijing faces a rising wave of worldwide hostility in the wake of the outbreak that could tip relations with the United States into confrontation, people familiar with the paper told Reuters.

The dollar index =USD dropped 0.12%, as commodity currencies inched up, with the Australian dollar =AUD rising 0.4% against the greenback.

Spot gold XAU= lost 0.2% to $1,699 an ounce.

(This story corrects U.S. crude price rise in second paragraph to $1.38 not 1.38%)

Reporting by Alun John in Hong Kong and David Henry in New York. Additional reporting by Lewis Krauskopf, Karen Brettell and Laila Kearney; Editing by Sam Holmes

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