Asian markets: China gives up early gains amid sluggish trade data; oil gains
Bank of America Merrill Lynch said that the Chinese stock market volatility was because of its currency, the renminbiReuters

Asian markets were trading in the green for the day. China's Shanghai Composite Index started the trading session in the green as the yuan stabilised for the third straight day. It, however, lost the early gains and slid to the red just before lunch after Beijing released sluggish trade data. Post the break, it recovered again and was trading at 3,028.77, up 0.20%.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch opined that the Chinese stock market volatility was because of its currency, the renminbi. "Within the mix of policy changes in response to what transpired last week — including the removal of circuit breakers in the Chinese equity market, etc. — it is very clear that the PBOC is now working to stabilize the renminbi."

The official data reported that both exports and imports declined for December 2015. While exports slid 1.4% on year in dollar-denominated terms, imports declined 7.6%. This resulted in a trade surplus of $60.09bn (£41.6bn, €55.5bn) for the month. While this was better than a Reuters' poll forecast, it marked a sixth month of declines for exports.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng was at 20,180.15, up 2.38%, Australia's S&P/ASX 200 was trading higher by 1.33% at 4,990.60, South Korea's KOSPI was at 1,913.68, up 1.21%, India's CNX Nifty was trading higher by 0.95% at 7,582.00, and Japan's Nikkei 225 was at 17,674.67, up 2.65%.

Among commodities, oil prices, which have been on the decline following supply exceeding demand, were trading higher in Asian trading hours. This was despite Standard Chartered warning recently that oil prices could slide to $10 a barrel and Fereidun Fesharaki, the Iranian chairman of Facts Global Energy (FGE), opining last week that oil prices could fall to $25 a barrel by March as Iran is expected to begin increasing its oil production soon, following the removal of international sanctions.

During Asian hours, WTI Crude oil was trading higher by 1.38% at $30.86 a barrel, while Brent Crude was up 0.87% at $31.13 a barrel.