Asia Markets

Asia shares rise on global stimulus bets but China bucks trend


Asian equities outside of China rose on Wednesday, rebounding after the previous day's losses, on hopes of fresh stimulus measures in Europe and China.

On Tuesday, European Central Bank officials said that they had not ruled out providing further stimulus to support the euro zone as it slowly recovers from the debt crisis. Meanwhile, the prospect of a reserve requirement ratio (RRR) cut from the People's Bank of China remains in focus following Monday's disappointing reading of March factory activity.

A positive handover from Wall Street also lifted sentiment. U.S. stocks climbed overnight, snapping their two-day losing streak after data showed consumer confidence hit a six-year high in March.

"Concerns around the three C's (cold, Crimea, China) are dropping off as the effect of the US winter subsides, the Crimean conflict is no longer affecting markets and China has seen stimulation bets ramping up," said Evan Lucas, market strategist at IG in a note.

Nikkei 0.3% higher

Japan's index pared gains after popping 1 percent in early trade as traders locked in trades before the start of the new fiscal year on April 1. The index ended just 0.2 percent below from its 200-day simple moving average of 14,513 points.

(Read more: 5 reasons the BOJ will unleash fresh stimulus)

Among the top gainers, Nintendo jumped 3 percent while Komatsu and Sony rose 2 percent each.

Kirin Holdings increased 2.6 percent on reports that the firm could boost its annual dividend in the next fiscal year.

Power companies were mixed on reports that the government will lift electricity charges from offshore wind farms while cutting prices for power from solar projects, as the country looks to diversify its use of renewable energy. Hokuriku Electric Power ended 1 percent higher while Kansai Electric Power eased 0.6 percent.

(Read more: For Nikkei, 14,000 remains the critical level)

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ASX up 0.8%

Australia's benchmark index ended at its highest level in two weeks while the Australian dollar hit a fresh four-month high after Reserve Bank of Australia Governor Glenn Stevens toned down calls for a lower currency in a speech at the Asian Investment Conference in Hong Kong.

(Read more: Are currencies living in an alternate world?)

Australia New Zealand Banking, National Australia Bank and Westpac rose 1 percent each after the RBA said in its financial stability report that lenders have boosted their resilience to adverse shocks. Still, the RBA warned against relaxing lending standards.

Yancoal Australia slumped nearly 8 percent after arranging a $300 million long-term debt facility from its majority owner, Yanzhou Coal Mining, to fund capital expenditure.

Sensex climbs 0.3%

India's benchmark index briefly touched a lifetime high of 22,172 points, its sixth record high this month, on continued foreign buying. Net purchases of overseas investors reached $2.5 billion so far this month, according to regulatory data.

(Read more: A case of too far, too soon for Indian shares?)

Nestle: Integration is key to China growth

Shanghai Composite slips 0.2%

Mainland shares bounced between gains and losses in choppy trade after rumors of insolvency at two rural banks sparked renewed fears about the health of China's financial system.

In earnings news, Agricultural Bank of China, the country's third-largest lender, closed flat after reporting its slowest profit growth on record on Tuesday.

Flag carrier Air China fell 0.8 percent despite posting a 32 percent decline in annual profit and Tsingtao Brewery, the country's second-biggest brewer by volume, lost over 2 percent after 2013 net profit missed estimates.

Environmental stocks rose after the environment ministry said in an online statement that the government hasn't done enough to reduce pollution. Jiangsu Welle Environmental led gains by 3 percent while Beijing SJ Environment climbed 2 percent.

(Read more: Has the emerging market buying moment arrived?)

Kospi gains 1.2%

South Korean shares enjoyed their biggest one-day gain in more than a month as investors brushed off data that showed revised fourth-quarter GDP came in just below estimates.

Hyundai Motor and affiliate Kia Motors climbed 4.5 and 2.2 percent, respectively, on news that Hyundai plans to sign a preliminary deal to build a fourth manufacturing plant in China.

Index heavyweight Samsung Electronics climbed 3 percent after a spokesperson denied reports that the firm is moving up the release date of the Galaxy S5 to March 27 from April 11.