Asian markets: China Shanghai Composite gains as oil touched a 2016 high
Barring Japan, rest of the Asian stock markets were trading higher on 18 March Reuters

The majority of the Asian stock market indices were trading higher, including China's Shanghai Composite Index which was up 1.79% at 2,956.92, on Friday (18 March) at 5.25am GMT. This followed oil prices touching a 2016 high. The markets also got a boost with the weakening of the US dollar after investors turned more optimistic on riskier assets amid the US Fed saying it will leave interest rates unchanged.

Ben Le Brun, market analyst at online brokerage OptionsXpress in Sydney, said: "We have got an important week out of the way from a macro data perspective, and not only have we come out of it unscathed, we are seemingly in a stronger place than where we started the week. We have heard from central banks in all corners of the globe now and the liquidity party rolls on with the potential for more to come."

In China, home data showed that February prices rose at the fastest pace in about 2 years with demand exceeding supply in big cities. However, risks such as weak growth in smaller cities could put more stress on an already slowing economy.

Indices in the rest of Asia traded as follows on 18 March at 5.36am GMT:

Hong KongHang Seng Index20,646.47Up0.70%
JapanNikkei 22516,682.83Down1.50%
South KoreaKOSPI1,990.81Up0.14%
IndiaCNX Nifty7,559.25Up0.62%
AustraliaS&P/ASX 2005,183.10Up0.29%

Meanwhile, overnight on Thursday (17 March), the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 17,481.49, up 0.90%, while the FTSE 100 closed higher by 0.42% at 6,201.12.

Among commodities, WTI crude oil got a boost after news that major oil producing nations such as Saudi Arabia and Russia are expected to meet on 17 April in Doha, the Qatari capital, to discuss freezing their production with an aim of improving oil prices. While WTI crude was trading 0.17% higher at $40.27 (£27.84, €35.60) a barrel, Brent was down 0.10% at $41.50 a barrel on 18 March at 5.45am GMT.