Asia-Pacific Markets

Asian Markets Close Higher, Hong Kong Hits New Highs

After a brief pause in the morning session, Asian stocks regained momentum to extend their record run in the afternoon and close higher across the board. Markets in Hong Kong, Australia and South Korea all touched lifetime highs.

The Hang Seng Index rose more than 1% tohit a peak of 28,907, while the S&P/ASX 200 index jumped 0.6% to a new high at 8,760 to set a fourth straight intraday record peak.

A rise in PetroChina's H-shares boosted the Hong Kong market as investors cheered media reports of a major gas find in China. The Shanghai Composite Index was up more than 1%.

Japan stocks reversed course to head north despite weak data showing a slightly bigger-than-expected 7.7% decline in core private-sector machinery orders in August from a month ago -- a key gauge of corporate capital spending.

A firm close for Tokyo's Nikkei 225 Average   was led by Sony Financial, which climbed as much as 5% in its debut to ¥420,000 on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. Investors also piled into Nintendo, sending the stock to a record high at ¥68,500 after the gamemaker said it will start selling its "Wii Fit" home fitness game in time for the critical Christmas shopping season.

Investors were also digesting news that the Bank of Japan left interest rates steady at 0.5% as widely expected in an 8-to-1 vote.

South Korea's KOSPI closed 0.9% higher after briefly touching a fresh peak, led by a drop in LG.Philips LCD after major shareholder Philips Electronics sold 46.4 million shares at a 43,425 won each overnight.

Singapore's Straits Times Index finished higher by 1.6% with banking shares such as DBS Group and OCBC advancing. Hyflux shares are on investors' radar as the water company said its CFO would resign to become finance chief at new water trust set up by the firm. Hyflux also said it would list the new trust later this year in a bid to raise US$100 billion.