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Asian markets bounce back from 'sell-off we had to have'

HONG KONG, Feb 7, 2018 (BSS/AFP) - Tokyo and Hong Kong led a rebound across Asian markets on Wednesday as investor confidence returned after the previous day's battering, with Wall Street providing a positive lead.

Trading floors were a sea of red Tuesday after a record one-day points drop on the Dow sparked panic-selling, wiping billions from valuations on worries about rising US interest rates.

Profit-taking also played a big role in the retreat after months of gains globally that sent markets to record or multi-year highs on the back of optimism in the world economy and strong corporate earnings.

The recovery was felt in most other assets, with safe haven gold down but high-yielding currencies rising against the dollar. Bitcoin also bounced back, buying $7,335 after briefly falling to a three-month low below $6,000 Tuesday.

Analysts say that while the volatility may not be at an end, this week's losses were unlikely to trouble dealers too much.

"The pullback may be considered a healthy correction," Candice Bangsund, a fund manager in Montreal at Fiera Capital, told Bloomberg News.

"The favourable conditions that have underpinned the stock market rally over the last year remain largely intact at this time -- the global expansion continues and corporate earnings remain in acceleration mode."

- Energy firms rally -

By the break Tokyo was up more than three percent, after losing 4.7 percent, while Hong Kong added 2.4 percent -- clawing back almost half Tuesday's losses.

Sydney rose 1.2 percent, Singapore climbed 0.8 percent and Seoul was marginally higher. Taipei surged 2.5 percent and Manila was one percent higher.

Greg McKenna, chief market strategist at AxiTrader, said: "At the moment, the safe bet is that this was part of the so-called 'sell-off we had to have'."

The dollar held gains made late in New York against the yen, which is considered the go-to unit in times of uncertainty and turmoil, while the euro and pound began making inroads against the greenback.

The Australian dollar was also rising against the US unit, adding 0.3 percent while South Korea's won was 0.8 percent higher. The South African rand, Mexican peso and Thai baht were also well up against the dollar.

A "lack of worry has helped pretty much everything climb off their lows against the dollar while it has leapt off its lows against the Japanese yen", McKenna added.

Gold was down almost two percent from Tuesday's highs before bouncing slightly to sit one percent lower.

Energy firms soared after being pummelled in the previous day, with a pick-up in oil prices providing support after a report showed US stockpiles not increasing as much as forecast.

Inpex jumped more than four percent in Tokyo, while PetroChina, CNOOC and Sinopec added between one and 2.5 percent. Sydney-listed Woodside Petroleum was nearly two percent up.

- Key figures around 0230 GMT -

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 3.1 percent at 22,270.56 (break)
Hong Kong - Hang Seng: UP 2.4 percent at 31,321.01
Shanghai - Composite: UP 1.1 percent at 3,406.88
Euro/dollar: UP at $1.2382 from $1.2381 at 2200 GMT
Pound/dollar: UP at $1.3955 from $1.3949
Dollar/yen: DOWN at 109.46 yen from 109.57 yen

Oil - West Texas Intermediate: UP 47 cents at $63.86 per barrel
Oil - Brent North Sea: UP 35 cents at $67.21

New York - DOW: UP 2.3 percent at 24,912.77 (close)
London - FTSE 100: DOWN 2.6 percent at 7,141.40 (close)