Asian stocks mixed; Nikkei closes at 7-year high on tax-hike delay talk

Wednesday's trading session saw a mixed picture in Asia, with Tokyo shares stealing the limelight to finish at a 7-year high. Investors were reacting to media reports that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will postpone a planned tax increase and call for a general election in December.

Overnight, Wall Street closed marginally higher, with both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite hitting fresh highs. The former closed up 0.1 percent at a new record of 2,039.68, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq finished 0.2 percent higher, touching its highest level since March 2000.

ASX 200
CNBC 100

Tokyo rises 0.4%

Japanese stocks closed at 17,197, levels unseen since October 2007, despite trimming gains into the last hour of trade. The key Nikkei 225 index peaked at a session high of 17,443 in the morning, buoyed by expectations that Prime Minister Abe will delay the second sales tax hike to avoid damaging a fragile economic recovery.

Meanwhile, the yen rebounded 0.5 percent to trade at 115.2, moving away from the overnight seven-year low against the U.S. dollar.

"The tax hike delay will be good for consumption and the domestic economy. I think the market reflects that today," Keith Fitz-Gerald, chief investment strategist at Money Map Press, told CNBC's "Street Signs Asia."

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Among gainers, Japan Airlines and Sharp rose 2.7 and 1.4 percent each. Fujifilm Holdings soared 4.4 percent after it said its Avigan anti-influenza drug will likely be approved for treating Ebola patients early next year.

Mainland shares mixed

China's Shanghai Composite index snapped a two-day losing streak, charging 1 percent higher in the afternoon session. Gains in financials buoyed the bourse; CITIC Securities and Haitong Securities climbed 7.6 and 5.8 percent, respectively.

Hong Kong shares widened gains to 0.4 percent late Wednesday. GOME Electrical Appliances fell nearly 6 percent on news that the Chinese electronics retailer would buy more than 5 percent of Huishang Bank for $309.5 million.

Meanwhile, China Modern Dairy plunged over 6 percent, after it revealed that the government is investigating media reports that some cows it sold tested positive for bovine tuberculosis, an infectious disease which can spread to other animals as well as humans.

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Sydney drops 1%

Australia's benchmark S&P ASX 200 index widened losses to close at a two-week low on Wednesday, dragged down by steep losses in Myer and majority of its blue-chip majors.

Shares of the department store tumbled 7.4 percent after it reported a disappointing 0.1 percent rise in first quarter sales. BHP Billiton - in the news after scrapping the sale of its Nickel West unit - fell 2.8 percent, while Fortescue Metals dropped 2 percent after announcing changes to its board of directors.

Meanwhile, wages rose 0.6 percent in the third quarter, figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed on Wednesday, matching the gain made in the previous quarter. Annual growth remained at 2.6 percent, equal to the slowest pace in at least two decades.

Also, a survey conducted by the Melbourne Institute and Westpac Bank, showed its index of consumer sentiment rose a seasonally adjusted 1.9 percent in November, from October when it had edged up by 0.9 percent, as households became more optimistic on the outlook for the economy and their own finances.

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Seoul up 0.2%

South Korean equities rose for a fifth straight session. Meanwhile, the won recovered from a 14-month low against the greenback to trade at 1,095 late Wednesday.

Hyundai Heavy Industries climbed 11 percent after saying it had won a $1.94 billion order for offshore facilities in the United Arab Emirates. Samsung Electronics announced it would be teaming up with Germany's SAP to make mobile devices for businesses, however shares of the electronics giant traded little changed.

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Nifty closes near record highs

Indian shares gained 0.25 percent to hover near an all-time peak ahead of consumer inflation data on Wednesday. Earlier in the session, the Nifty index briefly hit a record high of 8,415.

Consumer price index for October, due at 2000 SIN/HK, likely cooled to a record-low 5.8 percent on year, dragged by a sharp drop in food and oil prices, according to a Reuters survey.