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Asian Shares Close Up Ahead of BOJ Decision

Asian stocks hit multi-month highs on Wednesday as expectations of more aggressive monetary stimulus from Japan and signs of progress in reaching a U.S. fiscal deal lifted riskier assets.

All eyes will be on Japan's central bank as it announces its policy decision on Thursday. Incoming prime minister Shinzo Abe's landslide victory further strengthened easing expectations after he requested the BOJ to consider adopting a 2 percent inflation target in January

Symbol
Name
Price
 
Change
%Change
NIKKEI
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HSI
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ASX 200
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SHANGHAI
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KOSPI
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CNBC 100
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The FTSE CNBC Asia 100 index climbed 0.6 percent.

Japan's Nikkei share average jumped 2.4 percent to end above 10,000 for the first time in more than eight months on Wednesday on growing expectations of an easier monetary policy under a new government.

Led by exporters and financials, the benchmark index ended 237.39 points higher at 10,160.40 in heavy volume.

The broader Topix index climbed 2.8 percent to 839.34, with trading volume hitting its highest since March 2011.

(Read More: Nikkei Rally to Run Into Resistance Soon: Chart)

The insurance sector soared 4.6 percent, being the second best sectoral performer, with T&D Holdings adding 3.5 percent and Dai-ichi Life Insurance jumping 7.1 percent.

Securities and banking shares attracted buying as well, with Nomura advancing 4.2 percent, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial soaring 5.9 percent and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial adding 3.9 percent.

Mitachi surged 11.6 percent after the trading firm specialising in automobile-use electronic parts raised its first-half operating profit forecast by 30.8.

Markets ignored disappointing November trade data, which fell 4.1 percent on-year to mark the sixth straight month of declines, Ministry of Finance data showed on Wednesday.

Australian shares rose to their highest close in more than 17 months on Wednesday, lifted by strong metal prices and optimism over U.S. budget talks to avoid the "fiscal cliff" of automatic spending cuts and tax increases.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 was up 22.6 points to 4,617.8, the highest close since July 8, 2011.

Top miners BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto jumped 1.1 percent and 1.6 percent respectively.

OZ Minerals dropped 9.8 percent, their biggest one-day loss in 3 and 1/2 years, on talk that analysts were cutting forecasts for production and earnings.

Whitehaven Coal rallied 8.1 percent after the company said it had held talks with China's Shenhua Group about a potential corporate or asset deal.

Surfwear company Billabong International plunged 13.3 percent after it said it received a $556 million takeover bid for the company at A$1.10 a share, but also cut its earnings guidance.

New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index gained 1 percent to 4,023 points.

South Korean markets are closed on Wednesday for the presidential elections. (Watch Now: About South Korea's Candidates)

China shares hovered around their highest levels since August. The CSI300 of the top Shanghai and Shenzhen listings closed up 0.1 percent at 2,371.1, while the Shanghai Composite Index was flat on the day.

Chinese property shares in the onshore market were weak with Poly Real Estate shed 1.5 percent in Shanghai, but China Resources Land rose 1.7 percent in Hong Kong.

China Shenhua Energy advanced 1.7 percent in Shanghai after it was told to come back with a full takeover offer after it had talked to Australia's Whitehaven Coal about taking a stake.

Hong Kong shares climbed to a near 17-month high as investors welcomed signs that the U.S. can avert its "fiscal cliff" and Chinese news reports that Beijing planners want to give markets more freedom to determine energy prices.

The Hang Seng Index ended up 0.6 percent at 22,623.4, its highest close since August 1, 2011. The China Enterprises Index of the top Chinese listings in Hong Kong gained 0.8 percent.

The state-run China Securities Journal newspaper reported that the National Development and Reform Commission, the powerful economic planner, vowed to further push forward resources price reforms, including for refined oil, natural gas and coal. China Shenhua Energy jumped 3.2 percent, while China Petroleum & Chemical Corp (Sinopec) climbed 1.7 percent.

Bucking broader market strength, Esprit Holdings tumbled 4.5 percent after the Europe-focused retailer warned of a possible loss for the six months ending in December.

In Southeast Asia, Singapore's Straits Times Index closed up 0.1 percent while Malaysia's KL Composite Index ended 0.4 percent higher.

In India, both the BSE Index and the 50-share NSE Index finished 0.5 percent higher.