Asian Shares Advance as Sentiment Recovers
Asian stock markets were mostly higher on Wednesday as investors regained risk appetite despite the absence of a fresh lead from Wall Street. Regional markets seem on course to end October on a positive note.
The FTSE CNBC Asia 100 Index, which measures markets across Asia, edged up 0.4 percent.
Japan's Nikkei share average advanced as investors took comfort that some firms, such as Hitachi and Komatsu, did not cut their full-year earnings guidance as feared.
The Nikkei closed up 1 percent to 8,928.29, and was up 0.7 percent this month, its third straight monthly gain. The broader Topix index climbed 1.2 percent to 742.33.
Hitachi climbed 3.4 percent, hitting a one-week high, as the electrical machinery maker retained its full-year earnings outlook after its first-half results, allaying investors fears of a cut in outlook.
Komatsu advanced 3.6 percent after the construction machinery maker maintained its full-year earnings guidance, easing concerns it would cut its outlook when it reported first-half results after the market close on Tuesday.
Brewer Asahi Group Holdings fell 1.8 percent to a 2-1/2-month low, on concerns that the company may fall short of its full-year operating profit forecast after it reported its results for the nine months ended September.
Fuji Heavy Industries jumped 6.8 percent to 768 yen, an 11-year high, after the carmaker raised its operating profit forecast for the year ending March 2013 by 22.4 percent to 82 billion yen, citing improving margins.
Ricoh fell 5.1 percent to a one-month low and falling for a seventh straight session after the office equipment maker's first half sales and operating profit came in below its own forecast.
Mainland Chinese shares edged higher, buoyed by earnings-driven strength in the banking and retail sectors that helped benchmark indices trim October losses.
The CSI300 Index of the top Shanghai and Shenzhen listings closed up 0.7 percent but down 1.7 percent in October at 2,254.8. The Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.3 percent on the day, but down 0.8 percent on the month.
Hong Kong shares closed out a second-straight monthly gain, bouncing off a near two-week low after Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), the country's largest bank, posted third-quarter earnings that beat expectations.
The Hang Seng Index closed up 1 percent on the day and 3.8 percent in October at 21,641.8. The China Enterprises Index of the top Chinese listings in Hong Kong rose 1.2 percent on the day and 7.6 percent on the month.
ICBC jumped 2 percent in Hong Kong after posting late on Tuesday a better-than-expected 15 percent rise in quarterly net profit as interest margins widened due to increased demand for credit.
PetroChina shed 2 percent after the Chinese oil giant saw third-quarter profit tumble 33 percent, a bigger drop than expected.
Offshore Chinese plays have outperformed onshore peers for five straight months. The Hang Seng Index A/H premium index has been under 100 for almost two weeks, suggesting the premium that onshore shares trade over their offshore peers is now wiped out. It closed at its lowest since June 2011 on Thursday.
South Korean shares rose for the third straight session, lifted by solid economic data and taking a cue from higher European equities.
South Korea's industrial output grew a seasonally adjusted 0.8 percent in September from August, data showed on Wednesday, snapping a three-month run of falls and adding to hopes for an economic turnaround.
Refiner S-Oil ended up 3.2 percent after it swung to an operating profit in the third quarter from the preceding quarter.
Top exporters gained ground, with Samsung Electronics ending up 0.9 percent but Hyundai Motor nched down to close 0.2 percent lower.
Hyundai Mobis extended Tuesday's gains, rising 1.5 percent after Moody's upgraded the rating of the auto parts supplier.
SK Hynix traded 1.9 percent higher after brokerage firms raised their fourth-quarter profit forecasts for the chipmaker.
Australian shares rose 0.7 percent to a one-week closing high on Wednesday as a rebound in copper prices boosted miners, although top lender, National Australia Bank lost ground after it reported a drop in cash profits for the first time in three years.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index rose 31 points to 4,517, according to the latest data, the strongest finish since Oct. 23.
NAB, the country's top lender by assets, slipped 0.4 percent to A$25.79 after saying cash earnings fell 7.9 percent in its fiscal second half, the first fall in three years.
Rival banks gained, with Commonwealth Bank of Australia ending up 0.8 percent at A$57.75.
BHP Billiton rose 0.8 percent after London copper climbed for a second session on Wednesday, pushing further away from two-month lows as risk appetite improved. Spot iron ore prices held near $120 a tonne and are up nearly 15 percent in October.
Investors now await Chinese manufacturing data due on Thursday.
Construction company Leighton Holdings fell 2.2 percent to A$17.90 after it warned it was witnessing a minor slowdown in mining sector activity and analysts questioned whether it could meet fourth-quarter earnings targets.
Macmahon rallied 8.5 percent to A$0.32 after it was named preferred contractor to deliver open cut mining services for the Christmas Creek iron ore mine in western Australia.
New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index advanced 0.4 percent to 3,957.9 points.
In India, both the BSE Index and the 50-share NSE index losed up 0.4 percent.