Fears about the Chinese economy has sent tremors across trading floors from Asia
Hong Kong - AFP
Shanghai stocks rallied Friday, ending a tumultuous month in the same fashion as they started, while other Asian markets also saw characteristic volatility as oil prices extended a recent rally.
Mainland Chinese investors have wiped about a quarter of the value off Shanghai shares in January, the worst month for the index in more than 20 years, as they fret over the state of the economy and authorities' ability to handle the crisis.
Fears about the problems in China -- the world's number two economy and a key driver of global growth -- has sent tremors across trading floors from Asia to the Americas, hammering stock prices and assets considered higher risk, such as emerging market currencies.
And, despite speculation central banks in Japan and Europe could again step in to provide support, analysts warned of further problems ahead as oil prices remain stuck near 12-year lows and confidence remains at a premium.
"After the big selldown we've seen in the early part of January, we're seeing a bit of stabilisation," Matthew Sherwood, head of investment strategy at Perpetual Ltd in Sydney, told Bloomberg News.
"Is this the calm before the next storm or is this a real opportunity to come in and start buying cheaper assets? I still think we're in for a very tough year."
Having fallen into the red soon after opening Shanghai rose 1.6 percent in early trade but it is still heading for its heftiest monthly drop since 1994, while Hong Kong was up 0.8 percent.
However, Tokyo slipped 0.5 percent by the break as dealers await the end of a Bank of Japan policy meeting to see if it adds to its already vast stimulus programme.
- Market pressure -
Before the Tokyo market opened the Japanese government released another round of official figures, including on inflation, household spending and factory output. The data highlight the work facing Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in kickstarting growth and dragging the country out of years of deflation or anaemic inflation.
Taro Saito, economist at NLI Research Institute, said: "There is a chance that the BoJ will take action today, but even if they don't, market pressure will continue to mount."
Oil prices edged up again, boosted by hopes for talks between the OPEC producers' group, which is responsible for about 40 percent of global output, and Russia to end a supply glut.
US benchmark West Texas Intermediate was up 0.4 percent and Brent added 0.3 percent.
The two contracts surged Thursday after Moscow said it could hold meetings with OPEC over possible output cuts that could amount to as much as five percent per country.
However, analysts warned the prices could soon fall back as they are sceptical any deal can be reached, with OPEC intent on keeping market share despite the painful hit from low prices.
The cost of crude has crashed by about three quarters since mid-2014 owing to weak demand, overproduction, the supply glut and a global economic slowdown, particularly in key user China.
- Key figures at 0240 GMT -
Shanghai - Composite: UP 1.5 percent at 2,695.74
Tokyo - Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.5 percent at 16,953.09 (break)
Hong Kong - Hang Seng: UP 0.6 percent at 19,307.32
Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.0936 from $1.0941 Thursday
Dollar/yen: DOWN at 118.65 yen from 118.82 yen
New York - Dow: UP 0.8 percent at 16,069.94 (close)
London - FTSE 100: DOWN almost 1.0 percent at 5.931,78 (close)