Asia Markets

Asian stocks rise, with China, Tokyo at new multi-year highs

Asian stocks were higher across the board on Wednesday, with Tokyo, Seoul and mainland markets hitting fresh highs, after the Bank of Japan (BoJ) kept its massive monetary stimulus intact as expected.

The central bank also reiterated that the world's third-biggest economy is recovering moderately.

Asian markets were seemingly unaffected by the weaker finish overnight in the U.S. as investors eyed continued gains in oil and the U.S. dollar ahead of the unofficial start of earnings season on Wednesday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished in neutral territory, while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite ticked down 0.2 and 0.1 percent each.

Nikkei gains 0.7%

Japan's Nikkei 225 hit its highest level since June 2000, while the dollar-yen fell as low as 119.90 against the U.S. dollar, after the BoJ held its monetary policy unchanged.

Tokyo-based pharmaceutical company Eisai rallied 2.2 percent after it was granted an additional patent for its Belviq drug. Following the news, Eisai's U.S. partner Arena Pharmaceuticals bolstered 3.9 percent overnight on the Nasdaq.

Fast Retailing, which is due to put out first-half results on Thursday, pared losses to finish flat.

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Mainland indices up

Amid volatile trade, China's Shanghai Composite index closed up 0.9 percent to fresh seven-year highs.

Train makers CSR and China CNR rose by the daily maximum allowable 10 percent for the second straight session in Shanghai after their proposed merger was approved by mainland authorities. In Hong Kong, shares of both companies soared over 30 percent each.

The Hang Seng index, trading for the first time after being closed since Good Friday, surged to its highest level since May 2008. The rally was supported by Chinese investors who used up the entire 10.5 billion ($1.69 billion) daily investment quota for the first time, according to Reuters. The daily quota allows mainland traders to buy Hong Kong stocks under the Shanghai-Hong Kong stock connect launched last November.

Alibaba Pictures Group, the movie division of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding, jumped 26.6 percent, boosted by an announcement regarding injection of entertainment assets from its parent company.

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ASX rises 0.6%

Australia's S&P ASX 200 index finished higher, propped up by the steep gains in the oil and gas sector on the back of firmer oil prices overnight. Oil Search climbed 5.7 percent, while Santos and Woodside Petroleum rose 4.4 and 2 percent each.

Junior miners remain in focus after Atlas Iron sought a trading halt on Tuesday. "The news from Atlas Iron was something I have long suggested was coming and I don't believe it will be the last bad news on the wires. I have concerns for BC Iron, Mount Gibson and the junior play Gindalbie Metals," Evan Lucas, IG's market strategist, wrote in a note.

Shares of BC Iron and Gindalbie Metals tanked nearly 10 percent each, while Mount Gibson erased gains to close virtually unchanged.

Banks, however, failed to overcome the disappointment from the Reserve Bank of Australia's (RBA) decision to hold borrowing costs steady at a record low of 2.25 percent yesterday. Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Australia and New Zealand Banking slipped 0.3 and 0.2 percent each.

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Kospi adds 0.6%

South Korea's Kospi index closed up at a more than 5-month high, thanks to a steady upswing among the country's oil refiners. S-Oil and SK Innovation rose 8.9 and 7.8 percent, respectively.

Hyundai Steel and Hyundai Hysco rallied 6 and 8.2 percent each on news of a merger. Meanwhile, the bourse's top weighted stock Samsung Electronics, which released its guidance on first-quarter results Tuesday, gained 0.8 percent.

Rest of Asia mixed

India's Nifty index gained 0.6 percent, recouping losses in the previous session sparked by the Reserve Bank of India's (RBI) decision to leave its main repo rate at 7.5 percent.

In Singapore, shares of Singapore Telecommunications threw away gains to retreat back to neutral territory following news that the telecom service provider will be acquiring Trustwave Holdings, a privately-held information security company based in Chicago. The broader Straits Times index dipped 0.1 percent.

Taiwanese manufacturer of smartphones and tablets HTC dropped 2.5 percent despite announcing better-than-expected first-quarter profit, outpacing a 0.7 percent drop in the broader Taiex index.