Asian shares gain as Ukraine fears recede

HONG KONG: Asian shares rose Tuesday following a bounce on Wall Street as fears ebbed of a direct military clash between Russia and Ukraine and focus turned to a speech this week by the US Federal Reserve chief.

Tokyo climbed 0.93 percent, Seoul gained 0.74 percent, Sydney added 0.56 percent, Hong Kong was up 0.10 percent while Shanghai traded flat.

The gains came after US stocks rebounded Monday from last week´s Ukraine-linked setback, with the Dow surging and Nasdaq reaching a 14-year high.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished up 1.06 percent at 16,838.74 while the broad-based S&P 500 added 0.85 percent to 1,971.74.

The Dow had led a sell-off Friday as news that Ukrainian artillery had destroyed part of a Russian military column spooked investors.

But Russia on Monday said that “certain progress” had been made during a marathon meeting in Berlin between the two countries´ foreign ministers and their counterparts from Germany and France.

The tech-rich Nasdaq Composite gained 0.97 percent to 4,508.31 — its highest level since March 31, 2000, when the market was on the cusp of a nearly 4,000-point crash as the tech bubble burst.

In forex markets, the dollar was at 102.63 yen in early Asian trade, up from 102.57 yen in New York late Monday and 102.32 yen in Tokyo earlier Monday.

The greenback is expected to bounce in volatile forex trading this week, ahead of a speech on Friday by US Federal Reserve chief Janet Yellen at the central bank´s annual economic policy symposium as investors look for any hint of a change to the Fed´s interest rate plans.

Last month Yellen told Congress the Fed would hold its near-zero interest rate policy until the US economy strengthens, but may raise rates if the jobs market kept improving.

The euro bought $1.3361 and 137.11 yen against $1.3363 and 137.05 yen in US trade.

In oil markets, US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for September delivery rose 26 cents to $96.67 while Brent crude for October was up seven cents to $101.67.Gold traded at $1,299.20 an ounce at 0216 GMT compared to $1,302.22 an ounce late Monday.