Reuters - Asia indexes extended rises in stock prices Tuesday as a halt in recent bond markets selling eased market participant nerves and lifted riskier assets - although oil prices were on the defensive on fears of slowing China energy consumption.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan firmed 0.97% while Japan's Nikkei was slightly down 0.12%.

Australian shares continued their climb Tuesday, with S&P/ASX 200 index rising as much as 1.05%, its highest since Feb. 19, as a rollout of another vaccine in the U.S. and optimism over a coronavirus relief package boosted hopes of a quicker international economic recovery.

China blue chips gained 0.58% in early trade while Hong Kong's Hang Seng advanced 0.9%, helped by steady and robust demand from market participants in mainland China.

China begins its annual session of parliament Friday which is expected to chart a course for economic recovery and unveil a five-year plan to fend off stagnation.

U.S. stocks rallied overnight, with the S&P 500 posting its best day in nearly nine months, as bond markets calmed after a month of selling.

For now, all eyes will be on Australia's central bank, which holds its monthly policy meeting Tuesday. Analysts expect the Reserve Bank of Australia to hold rates at a historic low but its concentration will shift to commentary about its quantitative easing program.

"There's everything to like about the rally in EU and U.S. equity markets," said Chris Weston, the head of research at Pepperstone Group Ltd. in Australia.

"Financials outperformed, with 95% of stocks in the S&P 500 gaining on the day," he said, adding that "clearly investors are seeing the world in a new light."

U.S. stocks suffered last week when selling in Treasurys pushed the 10-year yield to a one-year high of 1.614%. The 10-year yield was edging lower in early trade at 1.4204%.

However, demand for riskier assets didn't slug the dollar, usually regarded as a safe-haven currency, as investors bet on fast growth and inflation in the U.S. The U.S. dollar index gained 0.14% in early trade against a basket of currencies to 91.142.

The Australian dollar was down 0.25% at $0.77510 ahead of the RBA meeting.

A stronger dollar weighed on gold. It was on the defensive at $1,711.4100 an ounce early Tuesday.

Oil prices fell more than 1% overnight after data showed China's factory activity growth slipped to a nine-month low in February, owing in part to disruptions over the Lunar New Year holiday. There were also fears among energy market participants that OPEC may increase supply following a meeting this week.

Brent crude fell 1.27% to $62.88 a barrel, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude lost 1.3% to $59.85.