Asian stocks rose after U.S. data on retail sales and unemployment claims boosted optimism in the worlds largest economy. Japanese shares fluctuated ahead of the weekends election.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index advanced 0.1 percent to 136.89 as of 9:03 a.m. in Tokyo. Energy and materials companies led the regional measure towards a 2.3 percent decline this week through yesterday as oil prices tumbled below $60 a barrel for the first time since July 2009 with Saudi Arabia questioning the need to cut output.

Retail sales rose 0.7 percent in November from the previous month, matching the highest estimate of economists surveyed by Bloomberg, as consumers snapped up electronics, clothing and furniture. Applications for unemployment insurance benefits declined by 3,000 last week to 294,000. Claims have been below 300,000 for 12 of the past 13 weeks.

West Texas Intermediate crude slid 1.3 percent today to $59.16 per barrel after yesterday dropping 1.6 percent. Oils collapse into a bear market has been exacerbated as Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Kuwait, OPECs three largest members, offered the deepest discounts on exports to Asia in at least six years. The market will correct itself, according to Saudi Arabian Oil Minister Ali Al-Naimi.

Source : Bloomberg