Japan, China stocks lead Asia higher on Fed outlook, Wall Street gains
Asian equities rose on Wednesday, taking their cue from a record finish on Wall Street ahead of a monetary-policy decision from the Federal Reserve.
"Direction will be limited ahead of the Fed outcome where markets hope to garner some clues on the timing of the beginning of tapering. However, given that the consensus has clearly shifted to a March 2014 beginning of tapering it is difficult to see how the Fed could build on already dovish market expectations," said Mitul Kotecha, Head of Global Markets Research Asia at Credit Agricole.
(Read more: Markets listen for cooing of dovish Fed)
Fed meeting watched
Wall Street shares finished near session highs Tuesday, with the S&P 500 touching a fresh high and the Dow within 50 points of an all-time record after weak economic data cemented expectations that the Federal Reserve will leave its monetary stimulus program intact for now.
The Fed started a two-day meeting on Tuesday with an announcement expected later on Wednesday. The central bank is expected to maintain its $85-billion-a-month bond-purchasing program until April 2014, according to the latest CNBC survey of economists, strategists and money managers.
Nikkei up 1.2%
Japan's benchmark ended at a one-week high after dollar-yen rose above the 98 handle for the first time in three days and as attention remained on local earnings.
Index heavyweight SoftBank jumped 1 percent after the Nikkei newspaper said operating profit could surge over 70 percent for the six months ended September 30.
Nomura closed 1.3 percent higher after its quarterly net profit met market expectations while Renesas Electronics surged over 5 percent after reporting a narrower loss for the first half. But robotics maker Fanuc shed 2 percent after forecasting a decline in full-year profit.
On the economic front, September industrial output data rose 1.5 percent, rebounding from a decline last month.
"Companies are forecasting a further pick-up of 4.7 percent [on month] in October. While the October forecast will likely turn out too optimistic, there is a good chance that industrial production will finally return to the levels observed at the beginning of last year in the coming months," said Marcel Thieliant, Japan Economist at Capital Economics.
Shanghai up 1.5%
China's benchmark index rebounded from the previous day's eight-week low even as the seven-day repo-rate, a key gauge of liquidity, spiked to its highest level in four months.
Analysts attributed the lack of reaction to expectations of further cash injections from the People's Bank of China, a day after the central bank injected funds into the market. Also underpinning gains were comments from a central bank official on Tuesday that liquidity conditions will remain ample.
Among the top gainers, railway stocks CSR Corp and China CNR rallied nearly 9 percent as investors went bargain-hunting following the previous day's steep falls.
In earnings news, Air China rose 2 percent despite posting a 7 percent drop in profit and China Citic Bank added 3 percent after reporting that net profit rose by a third.
(Read more: McLaren revs up dealerships in China race)
"With 78 percent of Chinese companies having reported, only 35 percent have actually beaten expectations on earnings, however when you are seeing 12.5 percent sales growth (26.2 percent EPS growth) it is still very compelling," wrote Chris Weston, market strategist at IG.
Sydney up 0.3%
Australia's benchmark index closed 27 points shy of a new five-year high while the Australian dollar moved off a two-week low of US$0.9456.
(Read more: Aussie dollar could tumble 25% by 2016: SocGen warns)
Waste management firm Transpacific Industries ended nearly 5 percent higher after announcing it has refinanced its syndicated facilities.
Among the most actively-traded stocks, gold miner Perseus slumped 12 percent as bullion prices fell for a second straight session.
Warrnambool Cheese and Butter Factory (WCB) fell 5 percent after Japanese beverage firm Kirin said it bought a 10 percent stake in WCB, which could block a bid by Canada firm Saputo.
Kospi rises 0.4%
South Korea's benchmark index erased earlier losses to enter positive territory thanks to more than 70 percent spike in train manufacturer Hyundai Rotem in its market debut, which is the nation's largest IPO in three years.
Blue-chip exporters declined after factory production contracted in September by the sharpest pace in six months. Kia Motor fell nearly 2 percent.
Shinhan Financial rose 1 percent following an 6.2 percent annual rise in third-quarter operating profit.
(Read more: Aging to upset South Korea's economic prowess)
India adds 0.5%
India's benchmark index extended gains after Tuesday's near 2 percent rally. Meanwhile, the rupee rose to 61.5 per dollar, not far off from hitting a new three-month high of 61.71.
If the Sensex crosses 21,039 points, it will hit a new three-year high.
— By CNBC.com's Nyshka Chandran. Follow her on Twitter @NyshkaCNBC