Nikkei jumps 2.3%
Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 got a fillip from a weaker currency on Thursday, reclaiming territory above the 17,000 level, as dollar-yen marched towards the 119 handle.
As a result, blue-chips majors like Canon and Toyota Motor made gains of 1.7 and 1.5 percent each. Sony rallied nearly 5 percent, unaffected by reports that North Korea was behind a cyber attack on Sony Pictures which has resulted in the studio pulling all plans to release its comedy "The Interview."
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Nissan Motor notched up 0.9 percent despite ordering the recall of more than 80,000 vehicles sold in Mexico to check for potential defects stemming from air bags made by Japanese company Takata.
Meanwhile, the Bank of Japan kicks off its two-day monthly meeting today and will release its last policy decision for the year on Friday. The central bank is widely expected to keep monetary settings unchanged and offer a slightly brighter view of the economy on tentative signs of recovery from recession, Reuters quoted sources as saying.
"The yen is seeing a bit of weakness heading into tomorrow's BOJ meeting results. Whether this is the beginning of a sustained recovery for Japan remains to be seen, but as long as the USD maintains its upward trajectory, that's one step of the way there for the Nikkei," said IG market strategist Stan Shamu.
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ASX surges 1%
Australia's S&P ASX 200 index entered a two-day winning streak, hitting a one-week high of 5,265 points earlier in the session, as the Fed's upbeat economic assessment and an uptick in oil prices lifted trading sentiment.
Oil and gas producer Santos climbed 5 percent while Oil Search bolstered 4.4 percent. Resource miners Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton settled 2.5 and 1.9 percent higher, respectively, while Fortescue Metals raked in a 6.4 percent gain.
The hardest-hit stock was Flight Centre Travel Group, which plummeted over 9 percent after issuing a profit downgrade.
Meanwhile, the Australian dollar moved off multi-year lows to trade at 8,127 to the dollar at 1410 SIN/HK, seemingly unaffected by declining house prices in the mainland.
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Kospi slips 0.1%
South Korean shares retreated from an intra-day peak of 1,919 points to end Thursday slightly below the flatline as blue-chips lost grounds.
Posco reversed openings gains to finish 0.5 percent lower while Samsung Electronics ended flat. Hyundai Motor tumbled nearly 1 percent as a weak rouble threatened to undercut profit margins in the Russian market.
Cheil Industries, which is the holding company of Samsung, closed up 6.6 percent after doubling its listing price of 53,000 won on its market debut. The initial public offering is said to be the third biggest ever in South Korea and shares were over-subscribed 195 times.
Meanwhile, shares of Korea Gas eased 0.1 percent on news that South Korean prosecutors issued an arrest warrant for its CEO Jang Seok-hyo over bribery and breach of trust.