Asia-Pacific Markets

Asian Stocks End Higher After Late Rally

CNBC with wires

Asian stocks turned higher, with Tokyo, Seoul, Sydney closing firmer as a late rally lifted markets to positive ground.

The Federal Reserve raised its 2010 forecast as minutes from the Fed's last meeting show policy makers are increasingly optimistic about the sustainability of the recovery.

Gold hit a record high of $1,179 an ounce on a weaker dollar and expectations of gold buying by central banks.

Japan's Nikkei stock average ended higher after hitting a four-month intraday low in a choppy session.

The benchmark index advanced 40 points points to 9,441.6 after earlier falling as low as 9,366.33, a four-month intraday low. The broader Topix closed at 833.2 points.

Banking stocks dragged amid persistent concerns about equity funding. Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Japan's biggest bank, lost 0.6 percent, with No. 3 bank Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group paring early losses to end 0.6 percent higher. Japan's second-largest bank, Mizuho Financial Group, lost 0.65 percent.

Retail stocks were mostly lower, after Nishimatsuya Chain, a retailer for kids apparel, reported a sharp decline in same-store sales.

Shippers Nippon Yusen and Mitsui OSK fell 4.8 percent and 1.7 percent respectively, in response to a futher dip in the Baltic Exchange's main sea freight index.

Shares of real estate developers were also hit, after unlisted Anabuki Construction went under in Japan's fifth-biggest corporate failure this year. Shares of Takara Leben lost 5 percent. Tokushima Bank, which said it had about 2.6 billion yen worth of unsecured loans and other claims to Anabuki, slumped 8.2 percent.

A rising yen and uncertainty about government economic policy weighed on techs, with Tokyo Electron down 1.4 percent and Adventest losing 0.4 percent.

Some exporters such as carmakers gained after data showed Japan's exports grew in October. Honda Motor up 2.5 percent and Toyota Motor climbed 1.1 percent. Nissan Motor rose 2 percent to 625 yen.

Japan Airlines rose 3.4 percent a day after its shares fell to a record low on growing investor worries that Asia's largest airline by revenue could face bankruptcy as it struggles to win an agreement on pension cuts.

The South Korean kOSPI finished 0.3 percent higher at 1,611.8 points in a volatile session. Retail and memory chip issues lent support while a cautious sector outlook weighed on bank stocks.

Lotte, South Korea's No. 2 retailer, advanced 2.2 percent and Hyundai Department Store rose 4 percent.

Gains in the U.S. semiconductor index helped memory chip issues. Samsung Electronics finished 0.9 percent higher. Hynix Semiconductor, gained 2.1 percent.

LG Household outperformed, jumping 5.2 percent on news it bought a lower-priced cosmetics maker TheFaceShop.

Australia's benchmark S&P/ASX 200 also closed higher on Wednesday, as banks and miners rose in thin trade.

The key index rose 37 points to 4,722.2 points after dipping to as low as 4,673.2 points.

Westpac led financials, advancing 1.7 percent, and NAB climbed 1.6 percent.

Market heavyweight BHP Billiton jumped 2.4 percent while Rio Tinto fell 0.3 percent amid talk that China's Chinalco, its biggest shareholder, was trimming its holdings.

Gaming machine maker Aristocrat Leisure slid 2.9 percent to A$4.04 after it said U.S. bondholders were seeking damages of around $233 million tied to a five-year-old lawsuit that the company lost.

Taiwan's Taiex rose 0.6 percent to a one-week closing high of 7,756.3 points.

Contract laptop makers Quanta and Compal Electronics led gains on expectations of an increase in PC shipments next year on a stronger outlook for the global economy.

LCD makers also rallied with AU Optronics up 4.12 percent on hopes of growing demand from china.

Hong Kong stocks erased losses to close 0.8 percent higher, as insurers and consumer stocks gained after the Shanghai market climbed on bargain-hunting later in the session.

Chinese banks fell on concerns that possible capital-raising plans by lenders to shore up their financial positions could lead to shareholder dilution.

Bank of China extended losses, falling as much as 4.8 percent to a three-week low, after sliding 4 percent on Tuesday.

The Hang Seng Index advanced 0.8 percent to 22,611.8 points. The Shanghai Composite rose 2.1 percent to 3,290 points.

Chinese property developer Fantasia rose as much as 10 percent on its market debut in Hong Kong. Coal mining equipment maker Sany Heavy Equipment jumped 27 percent on its first day of trade.

In Southeast Asia, the STI eked out gains of 0.5 percent while the KLCI edged down 0.1 percent.

CapitaMalls Asia enjoyed a positive trading debut, up 8.5 percent at the open before paring gains. It raised US$2 billion in the island's largest IPO in 16 years.

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