ASIAN SHARES RISE AS UKRAINE FEARS EASE

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HONG KONG: Asian markets picked up on Tuesday with traders welcoming news that pro-Russian rebels had handed over the black boxes from downed flight MH17, helping to ease geopolitical concerns.

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Hong Kong rallied 1.69 percent, or 394.97 points, to close at 23,782.11—its highest level since December—and Shanghai rose 1.02 percent, or 21.00 points, to 2,075.48.

Tokyo closed up 0.84 percent, or 127.57 points, at 15,343.28, Seoul ended 0.52 percent higher, adding 10.43 points to 2,028.93, and Sydney ended up 0.06 percent, or 3.4 points, at 5,543.3.

The downing of the Malaysia Airlines jet on Thursday in Ukraine fanned fears that a regional crisis could become an international one, with Western governments saying it was shot down by pro-Russian separatists.

Those tensions eased on Tuesday after it emerged the rebels had given the plane’s two black boxes to Malaysian officials.

They also announced a ceasefire in an area around the crash site to provide safe access for an international investigation.

And they allowed a train carrying the remains of 280 of the people killed in the disaster to leave the region.

The improved sentiment filtered through to currency markets, with the yen easing as investors grow more confident in higher-risk assets. The Japanese unit is considered a safe haven in times of uncertainty.

In the afternoon the dollar was worth 101.50 yen compared with 101.38 yen in New York, while the euro rose to 137.15 yen from 137.10 yen.

The single currency bought $1.3521 against $1.3523.

Wall Street’s three main indexes ended in the red Monday on concerns over Ukraine before news of the black box breakthrough emerged.

The Dow fell 0.28 percent, the S&P 500 eased 0.23 percent and the Nasdaq lost 0.17 percent.

US dealers were also spooked by the ongoing battle in Gaza, where Israel has mounted a ground assault against Hamas, leading to the deaths of hundreds of civilians.

On oil markets, US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for August delivery was up 54 cents at $105.13 at midday, and Brent crude for September climbed 26 cents to $107.95.

Gold fetched $1,306.89 an ounce by 8 a.m. local time compared with $1,314.80 on Monday.

AFP

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