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Asian shares rebounded on Thursday following the previous day's sharp sell-off as investors cheered strong data from the world's second biggest economy.
China's April trade report came in much better than expected with exports rising 0.9 percent from a year ago. That was well above Reuters estimates for a 1.7 percent fall and March's 6.6 percent tumble. Meanwhile, imports jumped 0.8 percent compared to an 11.3 percent slump in March.
"China's export sector seems to be doing ok, as would be expected during a year in which domestic demand in the U.S., Japan, U.K., and Europe is strengthening. With China's exports consolidating and most of its PMIs marginally higher in April than March, there is a good chance that the People's Bank of China will allow the yuan to recover some of the first quarter's depreciation in the second quarter," said Bill Adams, senior international economist for PNC Financial Services Group.
Yellen, Ukraine lift sentiment
Testifying before Congress, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said the U.S. economy remains in need of support from the Fed as employment was still not robust. She also warned that a slump in the housing market and geopolitical tensions over Ukraine could weigh on growth.
Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin's new conciliatory tone on the crisis in Ukraine helped to ease investor fears. Putin said that he's already withdrawn troops from the Ukrainian border and called on Russian separatists to hold off voting for secession, which was a key U.S. demand.
Shanghai up 0.3%
Mainland shares pared gains after rallying as much as 1 percent earlier in the session. Still, the benchmark Shanghai Composite recovered after ending at a one-week low in the previous session.
Energy stocks were among the top gainers. Lu'An Environmental Energy and Yangquan Coal rallied over 2 percent each while China Shenhua added 1 percent.
Property developers declined with Vanke, Shanghai Shimao and Gemdale down more than 1 percent each.
Nikkei pops 0.9%
Japanese shares recovered from Wednesday's 3 percent slump as the yen weakened from its three-week high against the dollar.
In earnings news, SoftBank lost 1.6 percent, extending losses from Wednesday's 5 percent decline, despite announcing a record operating profit for the 2013/14 year. Consumer electronics giant Nintendo pared gains to close down 0.7 percent after losing as much as 5 percent after posting an operating loss of $457 million on Wednesday.
Emerging markets in focus
Vietnamese shares tumbled nearly 6 percent, their biggest daily fall in over a decade, after saying on Wednesday that a Chinese vessel rammed two of its ships in the disputed South China Sea.
Thailand's benchmark SET Index lost 1 percent, hitting its lowest level in almost a month for a second day, following a court's ruling to have Yingluck Shinawatra step down for abuse of power charges.
Shares in Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines were all modestly higher ahead of their respective monetary policy decisions.
In India, the benchmark index was flat after closing at a one-and-a-half month low on Wednesday.
ASX gains 0.7%
Australia's benchmark index bounced back after sliding to a three-week low on Wednesday while the Australian dollar hit a fresh two-week high. Upbeat economic data underpinned gains; the economy created 14,200 jobs in April, well above estimates for a rise of 6,750 jobs.
Mineral exploration firm Boart Longyear slumped 20 percent after first-quarter revenue declined 47 percent from the previous quarter.
Kospi gains 0.5%
South Korean shares snapped an eight-day losing streak, rebounding after ending at their weakest levels since March 21 on Wednesday. Meanwhile, the won continued to trade at six-year highs against the greenback.