Asian stocks gained for the first time in five days, as a rebound in oil boosted energy producers and technology companies rose on expectations mergers and cost-cutting steps will bolster profits.
However, weak economic data and a bleak outlook for quarterly results have hampered what had been a promising start to the year, though the continued flood of new corporate bond sales globally at least points to some investors' willingness to take on risk.
Japan's Nikkei 225 Stock Average added 0.3 per cent to 8,438.45, led by Sony. Shanghai Pudong Development Bank paced gains in China, where the CSI 300 surged the most in six weeks. All other benchmark indexes rose, apart from Malaysia, Taiwan and Indonesia.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index advanced one per cent to 86.75 in Tokyo. About two stocks rose for each that dropped and all but one of the 10 industry groups increased. The gauge slumped seven per cent during the past four sessions amid growing concern the global recession will fuel losses for the region's manufacturers. Analysts have slashed their earnings estimates for companies in MSCI's Asian index by 40 per cent from a peak in April. The index remains down around 2.5 per cent for the year.
Cnooc advanced 3.1 per cent to HK$7.10. Woodside Petroleum, Australia's second-largest oil and gas producer, rose 2.5 per cent to A$35.65, snapping a four-day 10 per cent slump. Inpex Corp, Japan's biggest oil explorer, added 5.3 per cent to 678000 yen. Jiangxi Copper, China's second-biggest smelter, gained 5.7 per cent to 12.51 yuan in Shanghai.
Toshiba, Japan's biggest chipmaker, rose six per cent to 408 yen and Fujitsu added 5.3 per cent to 415 yen. The two companies are in final talks about a hard-disk drive joint venture in which Toshiba would have a majority stake. Sony jumped 4.5 per cent to 2090 yen.