Asian shares rise and commodity prices ease after rally on Wall Street

Equities rose as some commodity prices eased, giving global markets a reprieve after a relentless series of stock losses driven by the escalating war between Russia and Ukraine.

Japan’s Topix rose 3.6 per cent while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 gained 1 per cent in early trading. China’s benchmark CSI 300 index rose 2.4 per cent while in Hong Kong the Hang Seng index climbed 2.3 per cent.

The gains in Asia followed on the heels of a rally on Wall Street, where the benchmark S&P 500 rose 2.6 per cent and the tech-focused Nasdaq Composite jumped 3.6 per cent after the Europe’s continent-wide Stoxx 600 index rose 4.7 per cent.

The rebound ended a four-day losing streak for global equities spurred by concerns over the fallout from the war in Ukraine, as escalating sanctions increased the threat of spiralling commodity prices sparking recessions in Europe and elsewhere in the world.

“Markets seem to have latched on to a couple of slightly less dismal clues as an excuse to rally hard in the last 24 hours,” said Robert Carnell, head of Asia research at ING.

Those developments included a meeting between Russian and Ukrainian officials on Thursday and the suggestion oil-producing nations might raise output, he said.

But he added that “thin markets and short-covering probably help explain a good chunk” of the rebound.

Equity futures pointed to a loss of upward momentum for global stocks during the European session on Thursday, with the Euro Stoxx 50 tipped to rise just 0.3 per cent. The S&P 500 was expected to edge down 0.1 per cent.

In commodities markets, crude prices rebounded after finishing Wednesday’s session sharply lower. Brent crude, the international benchmark, rose 2 per cent to $113.39 after dropping 13 per cent in the previous session, while US marker West Texas Intermediate rose 1.5 per cent to $110.35, recovering slightly in the wake of a 12 per cent drop.

Wheat futures traded in Chicago, which have surged in recent days on fears of disruption to exports from Ukraine and Russia, closed almost 6 per cent lower during the Asian morning at just below $12 a bushel.

In China, the only nickel futures still trading fell by the maximum 17 per cent allowed, with contracts for delivery in August dropping 17 per cent. Shanghai’s futures exchange suspended trading for more than half of the country’s nickel contracts for a day on Wednesday after the Chinese benchmark contract rose the maximum amount for several consecutive days.

That surge was a response to unprecedented gains in London, where the London Metal Exchange was forced to halt trading this week when a bad bet that prices would fall by Chinese nickel producer Tsingshan Holding triggered a cascade of margin calls that sent the benchmark contract soaring to more than $100,000 a tonne.

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