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Asian stocks rebound from heavy losses

29 August 2013, 08:32 AFP

Hong Kong - Asian markets saw a mild bounce on Thursday after suffering heavy selling pressure this week, but traders remain on edge ahead of an expected military strike on Syria.

The dollar also benefited as fears eased over the impact of an attack on the Middle Eastern country, which is accused of using chemical weapons on its own people.

India's rupee was slightly off record lows touched on Wednesday as investors fret over the country's stuttering economy as well as the future of the US Federal Reserve's stimulus programme.

Tokyo rose 0.48% by the break, Hong Kong added 0.58%, Shanghai gained 0.42% and Seoul rallied 1.25% but Sydney shed 0.28%.

Buying sentiment was given a boost by a rally on Wall Street, which ended three days of losses, as energy companies benefited from a surge in oil prices.

The Dow rose 0.34%, the S&P 500 climbed 0.29% and the Nasdaq added 0.41%.

Obama, who had warned the use of chemical weapons by Syria would cross a "red line", said Washington had definitively concluded that the Assad regime was to blame for last week's attack that killed hundreds of people.

However, he said on Wednesday he had not yet decided whether to strike.

His comments, which were more cautious than recent statements, come as political uproar in London cast doubt on whether Britain will join any such action.

Kengo Suzuki, forex strategist at Mizuho Securities, told Dow Jones Newswires: "Excessive risk aversion is unwinding."

Anxiety about Syria initially caused the dollar to weaken earlier this week as investors bought alternative safe haven currencies including the Swiss franc and yen.

"I think the general feeling is that the United States won't be as heavily involved in Syria as it was when it invaded Iraq back in 2003," he said.

Crude prices edged lower after surging Wednesday on fears of a supply shortage in the oil-rich Middle East caused by any military intervention.

New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate for delivery in October, was down 71 cents to $109.39 a barrel after spiking at a two-year high of $112.24 the previous day.

Brent North Sea crude for October shed 75c to $115.86. The contract peaked at six-month high of $117.34 on Wednesday.

Thursday's pick-up also provided some respite for stocks in emerging markets, which have been hammered in recent weeks on expectations of an end to the Fed's stimulus, which has fuelled an investment splurge in the region over the past year.

Jakarta was up 1.10%, Manila added 0.80% and Kuala Lumpur climbed 0.53%.

The Indian rupee was also better off, sitting at 68.82 to the dollar after tapping 69.22 Wednesday. However, the unit remains strained owing to ongoing troubles in the domestic economy.

The dollar bought ¥97.88 in early trade, compared with ¥97.72 in New York and well up from the low ¥97 levels in Tokyo on Wednesday.

The euro fetched $1.3327 and ¥130.42 compared with $1.3341 and ¥130.36.

Gold cost $1 409.35 an ounce, near a three-month high, at 02:20 GMT, up from $1 422.90 late on Wednesday.


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