Asia stocks stabilize after China jitters sell-off

Associated Press
A man stops and looks at Japan's Nikkei stock update on an electric board at a securities firm in Tokyo, Wednesday, March 12, 2014. Asian stock markets sank Wednesday as recent falls in Chinese copper and iron prices added to jitters that the world's No. 2 economy is continuing to slow. (AP Photo/Junji Kurokawa)
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SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Asian stock markets were higher Thursday as jitters over China's slowdown eased and investors awaited new economic data to digest.

Markets were recovering some of their losses from the previous day's sell-off, which was sparked by worries over China's economic outlook and subsequent drops in commodity prices.

The price of copper extended its losses amid expectations that a slowdown in China, a major consumer of raw materials and energy, would cut global demand for those commodities. The price of oil rose after a steep fall though it fell short of $99 a barrel.

Japan's Nikkei 225 gained 0.4 percent to 14,899.42 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng advanced 0.5 percent to 21,999.79. In mainland China, the Shanghai Composite rose 1.3 percent to 2,022.96.

South Korea's Kospi added 0.5 percent to 1,942.35. The Bank of Korea kept its interest rate steady for another month but its governor said domestic consumer demand is picking up.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 was up 0.5 percent to 5,409.60. Stocks in Taiwan and Indonesia also advanced.

New Zealand's currency and its stock market rose after the country's central bank raised its benchmark interest rate by quarter of a percentage point to 2.75 percent in the first such rate hike by a developed nation since the 2008 global financial crisis.

China's industrial production for February is among the economic data that investors are waiting for.

Oil prices eked out gains with a barrel of benchmark crude for April delivery up 27 cents to $98.26 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell $2.04, or 2 percent, to close at $97.99 on Wednesday.

In currencies, the euro rose to $1.3941 from $1.3904 late Wednesday. The dollar rose to 102.79 yen from 102.72 yen.

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