Asian markets mostly finished higher Thursday, but were off their morning highs. Volumes were thin amid a dearth of strong incentives, with many market participants holding back ahead of a long weekend in the United States. Japan and South Korea both closed almost 1% higher.
Investors snapped up energy shares after oil jumped more than 2% the previous session, on a sharp drop in U.S. crude and gasoline inventories. Japan's INPEX Holdings and Australia's Woodside Petroleum both advanced.
Technology shares were also in demand thanks to a rally in their U.S. peers led by Apple on buzz surrounding the expected launch of new iPod products. Samsung Electronics and chip-tester maker Advantest rose.
Tokyo's Nikkei 225 Average closed 0.88% higher as strong oil prices pushed up energy stocks and trading firms, while TDK gained on its plan to buy Thai-based Magnecomp Precision Technology. Tokyo Electron rose on a report about strong earnings, while trading house Mitsui & Co advanced after saying it had won an order to build a diesel oil plant in Egypt.
South Korea's KOSPI closed almost 1% higher, led by technology stars as Samsung Electronics on hopes of a U.S. interest rate cut, with Korea Exchange Bank gaining on bets it could soon be sold to HSBC. But takeover target Korea Express slipped after soaring by more than a quarter in the past three sessions amid expectations of a bidding war.
Australia's S&P/ASX 200 Index finished 0.5% higher, as hopes of an interest rate cut in the U.S. lifted shares in U.S.-focused firms such as CSL, while firmer metal prices lifted mining firms.