HONG KONG (Nikkei Markets) -- Asian stocks outside of Japan rose, driven by advances for energy producers after oil prices soared to multi-year highs.
The Nikkei Asia300 Index climbed 1.2% to 1,442.06. Regional energy producers paced gains for the gauge, with PetroChina and CNOOC rising at least 4.4% each in Hong Kong. In Malaysia, Sapura Energy added 8.2%, while Singapore-listed rig builder Keppel Corp. advanced 2.2% and Adaro Energy added 3.8% in Jakarta. The rally for resources companies came after U.S. oil prices climbed 2.9% to $68.47 a barrel, while Brent crude rose 2.7% to $73.48 overnight following a drop in U.S. crude inventories. Major oil exporter Saudi Arabia would be happy to see crude rise to $80 or even $100 a barrel, Reuters reported, citing three industry sources.
"Equities in Asia received a boost today, as a result of higher commodity prices and strong U.S. earnings announcements," said Hussein Sayed, chief market strategist at FXTM. "Although the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries may send signals of extending the supply cut deal, I think a target price of $80 to $100 is unrealistic."
Technology heavyweights Tencent Holdings and Samsung Electronics rose 1.5% and 2.8%, helping boost the gauge on Thursday. Chinese lenders extended Wednesday's rally after the People's Bank of China announced plans to cut banks' reserve requirements by a 100 basis points. Industrial & Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) and China Construction Bank (CCB) added 3% and 2.5%, respectively.
Chinese automakers, which came under pressure on Wednesday after news that authorities plan to lift shareholding limits on foreign ownership for special-purpose vehicles and new energy vehicles this year, rebounded on Thursday. Guangzhou Automobile Group, BYD and Dongfeng Motor Group added 5.4%, 2% and 2.7%, respectively.
Trading in Chinese telecommunication equipment maker ZTE was halted in Hong Kong for a third day. The company said it is unable to publish first-quarter results scheduled on Thursday, pending an assessment on the impact of a U.S. ban on American companies selling parts to it.
The country gauges for Hong Kong, China and South Korea rose 0.4%, 2.1% and 0.8%, respectively.
Malaysian wireless carrier Maxis edged 1% higher Thursday after reporting a 4% increase in first-quarter net profit. The company said its profit was aided by cost controls, but warned that the revenue and operating profit decline this year may be sharper than previously anticipated due to changes in accounting standards.
Malaysia's gauge added 0.8%.
The Nikkei Asia300 ASEAN Index of Southeast Asian companies ended 0.7% higher. India's gauge rose 0.6%. The nation's top information technology services company Tata Consultancy Services rose 1% in Mumbai ahead of its March quarter results, due later Thursday.
--V. Phani Kumar