Asia Markets

Asian stocks hit multi-week highs on upbeat US data

Asian shares rose on Wednesday after Wall Street posted a three-day winning streak on the back of strong data, with markets in Japan, Australia and South Korea hitting multi-week highs.

U.S. stocks kicked off the second quarter higher, with the setting a fresh intraday record, after data from the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) showed manufacturing activity improved for a second straight month in March.

U.S. private payroll data Wednesday - known as the ADP report - is expected to give investors further clues as to whether Wall Street's rally can continue. The report comes ahead of Friday's monthly government jobs report that is expected to show a gain of 197,000 new jobs in March, according to Reuters.

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Nikkei jumps 1%

Japanese shares ended at new three-week highs as investors cheered a weaker currency. The weakened to 103.93 per dollar, its lowest level since January 23.

Automakers were among the top gainers. Mitsubishi Motors rallied nearly 5 percent and Mazda Motor ended nearly 3 percent higher after U.S. auto sales rose 6 percent in March - the fastest pace since November.

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Renesas surged as much as 19 percent on reports that Apple is in talks to buy the semiconductor manufacturer's stake in chip design unit, Renesas SP Drivers.

The utility sector was under pressure with Kyushu Electric Power down 5 percent on reports that it is seeking a capital injection from state-owned Development Bank of Japan. The news sparked sector-wide losses; Kansai Electric Power and Hokuriku Electric eased nearly 2 percent each.

Shanghai Composite gains 0.5%

Mainland shares extended gains thanks to strong gains in property developers after the Shanghai Securities News reported that officials in Hangzhou and Changsha are considering ways to loosen property purchase restrictions.

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Poly Real Estate led gains by 7 percent, China Merchants Property jumped 5.6 percent and Shanghai Shimao rallied 3.4 percent.

Separately, two private surveys released on Tuesday showed that home price inflation continued to slow in March.

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ASX up 0.3%

Australia's benchmark closed at a fresh three-week high, while the Australian dollar retreated from the previous day's four-month peak of $0.9310.

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Miners led the gains with Fortescue Metals up 2.8 percent and BHP Billiton nearly 1 percent higher after copper prices rose to a more than three-week high following an earthquake in Chile.

Goodman Fielder plunged 21 percent after the food company downgraded its earnings guidance for the fourth quarter.

Kospi gains 0.2%

South Korea's benchmark Kospi index rose to a new 2014 high for a fourth straight session on strong foreign buying, while the scaled an 11-month peak.

Among the biggest movers, Samsung Electronics and Kia Motors jumped 1 and 2 percent, respectively.

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Emerging markets higher

Southeast Asian markets rose after the MSCI Emerging Markets Index topped the 1,000 level for the first time since January 2, extending gains into an eighth session.

Philippine shares rallied over 1 percent while India's benchmark index finished 0.5 percent higher after rising as much as 0.6 percent to an all-time high of 22,592 for an eighth straight session.