Asia Markets

Asia equities higher on US economic optimism, ECB easing hopes

Asian stock markets rose on Wednesday following another record high for the S&P 500 index overnight and the prospect of fresh monetary stimulus in Europe.

U.S. stocks rallied on Tuesday, resuming trade after Monday's holiday, thanks to better-than-expected economic reports. Orders for durable goods and consumer confidence rose in April, home prices moved higher in March and Markit's flash services purchasing manager's index for May continued to expand. That saw the close at a new record high for the second straight session while a rally in internet and social media stocks lifted the Nasdaq by 1 percent.

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"Aside [U.S.] data, recent ECB rhetoric is sending strong signals that it may implement some form of easing next week at its monetary policy meeting. Thus prospects of further accommodative stance and good U.S. data provided a boost in sentiment, especially in stock markets," said Vishnu Varathan, senior economist at Mizuho Bank.

Nikkei up 0.2%

Japanese shares extended their winning streak into a fifth session but the pace of gains cooled as some investors booked profits on the previous seven-week closing high

Real estate developer Mitsui Fudosan closed down nearly 5 percent announcing plans to sell new shares of up to $3.2 billion to fund investments in office, retail buildings and projects related to the 2020 Olympics. If Mitsui reaches its capital target, it would be the biggest offering this year.

Asia and EMs are lacking this key factor: JP Morgan
Asia and EMs are lacking this key factor: JP Morgan

Semiconductor manufacturer Renesas jumped nearly 5 percent after Reuters reported the firm is looking to sell a 55 percent stake in its display chip unit, Renesas SP Driver, to Synaptics instead of Apple.

ASX gains 0.3%

Australian shares ended at a new one-month high while the Australian dollar erased gains after touching a one-week high of $0.9278 overnight.

Property group Stockland added 0.2 percent after raising its takeover offer for Australand Property to $1.87 billion, one month after threatening to walk away if its original bid was rejected. Australand shares fell 1 percent on the news.

Woolworths eased 1 percent after the Australian Financial Review reported that the supermarket chain was eyeing a spin off of its pubs business into a new division.

Gold miners declined after bullion prices hit a new three-and-a-half-month low. Evolution Mining and Alacer Gold lost nearly 5 percent each.

China shares higher

Mainland shares rebounded 0.8 percent to end at a two-week high while the hovered near an 18-month low against the greenback following disappointing data. April industrial profits rose 9.6 percent on year, slower than March's 10 percent gain.

How to read China's April industrial profits report
How to read China's April industrial profits report

China Vanke jumped over 3 percent after announcing that was looking to list in Hong Kong in the second half of June. The country's largest property developer also dismissed talk of a housing market but said that the "golden era" for property had passed.

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Meanwhile, Hong Kong's benchmark index added 0.7 percent following the previous day's 0.2 percent decline.

Kospi up 1%

South Korean shares rallied to their highest levels since December 2, one day after closing at a two-week low in the previous session.

LG Electronics rallied 1.8 percent after unveiling its latest flagship smartphone on Tuesday.

Emerging markets gain

Thailand's benchmark SET Index jumped 0.7 percent to levels not seen before the country's military staged a coup. Investors seemed to dismiss data showing that April exports fell nearly 1 percent on year, missing expectations for a 0.5 percent gain.

Indian shares finished flat as investors await policy announcements from the new government.