HONG KONG - Asian markets rose Wednesday, with commodities-linked firms boosted by China's strong inflation reading, but oil prices struggled after two days of sharp losses fuelled by doubts about the effectiveness of OPEC's planned output cuts.
Despite gains across the region, investors are on edge as they await Donald Trump's first press conference since his US election win, with initial excitement about his plans turning to scepticism about whether he can deliver.
China on Tuesday said factory-gate prices surged last month at their fastest pace in more than five years, leading to hopes the country could export much-needed inflation around the world and help kickstart global growth.
The news helped ramp up prices in key commodities such as iron ore, copper and aluminium, which in turn provided support to producers. Sydney-listed BHP Billiton was up more than two percent and rival Rio Tinto gained almost four percent, while in Tokyo Sumitomo Metal Mining put on 3.7 percent.
In China there were gains of up to nine percent in some commodity firms, although late selling saw many pare early advances. "Given China is the world's exporter, changes in their prices are important," James Woods, global investment analyst in Sydney at Rivkin Securities, told Bloomberg News.
Hong Kong stocks climbed 0.8 percent and Sydney put on 0.2 percent, while Tokyo ended 0.3 percent higher. Seoul rallied 1.5 percent and Singapore 0.2 percent, while there were also healthy rises from Wellington to Kuala Lumpur. However Shanghai ended down 0.8 percent. In early European trade London, Paris and Frankfurt all opened flat.
In oil markets both main contracts were only marginally higher, having tanked almost six percent in the past two sessions as dealers fret over OPEC's production deal.
Reports that more US rigs had come online was followed by news Iraq had pumped record amounts in December and that it planned to produce more in February. That has raised questions about the chances of success for November's OPEC output cut agreement.
Eyes now turn to Trump's news conference, just over a week before he is sworn into office. Markets and the dollar surged after his election. Traders speculated that his plans for high infrastructure spending, low taxes and deregulation would fan growth and lead to higher inflation, forcing the Federal Reserve in turn to raise borrowing costs.
Yunosuke Ikeda, head of currency strategy for Japan at Nomura Securities in Tokyo, said: "No one knows what Trump will say, but if the view gains ground that he won't try to talk down the dollar, that should support further strength." But Stephen Innes, senior trader at OANDA, said in a note: "Traders will be viewing the speech with a high level of scrutiny (after) the market's exhilaration over 'Trumpenomics'.
"Initially, euphoria gave way to a more calculated approach to the (dollar) as we entered year end, and that has now morphed into a degree of scepticism over the proposed US infrastructure spend."