Most Asian bourses traded higher on Thursday following a firm finish on Wall Street overnight, with Tokyo, Sydney and Seoul shares closing at new highs. Mainland shares extended losses into a second session as Wednesday's monthly indicators cast doubt over the Chinese economy.
U.S. shares ended Wednesday with gains, on the back of surging tech, airline and biotech shares. The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 0.6 percent, with Intel leading blue-chip gains. The S&P 500 added 0.7 percent while the tech-heavy Nasdaq bolstered 1 percent.
U.S. retail sales were unexpectedly flat in July, data from the U.S. Commerce Department showed Wednesday, held back by a second straight month of declines in receipts at auto dealers, as well as weak sales of furniture, electronics and appliances. July's reading was the weakest since January.
In Ukraine, Kiev denounced Russia's dispatch of a humanitarian aid convoy as an act of unbounded cynicism serving pro-Russian separatists and said the trucks would not be allowed to pass. Reports on Thursday morning said that the aid trucks were currently standing idle at a military base in Voronezh in Russia, close to the Ukrainian border.
Over in the Middle East, Israel and Palestinian factions agreed to extend the truce for five more days on Wednesday in order to reach a lasting agreement to end the fighting in Gaza, Reuters reported.
In Iraq, 130 U.S. military advisers arrived in Irbil. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel on Tuesday reiterated that the U.S. is not going back into Iraq with a "combat boots-on-the-ground operation."