Asian stocks rise fuelled by positive China data

Asian stocks rose as the first trading day of 2012 in most markets brought renewed appetite for riskier assets, while US crude jumped more than 1.5 per cent to above $100 a barrel on escalating tensions between Iran and the West.

Stronger-than-expected manufacturing data from China boosted sentiment in Asia, but Europe's drawn-out debt crisis continued to cloud the outlook and dragged on the euro, which struggled off a decade low against the yen.

The official Chinese purchasing managers' index, which indicated a slight rise in factory activity in December, also lifted industrial metals such as copper on hopes of increased demand.

"China's PMI number looks positive, better than most people had expected earlier on," said Huang Yiping, chief economist for emerging Asia at Barclays Capital in Hong Kong. "But caution remains in the market. The euro zone economy is declining, it's in negative growth."