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ASX, Nikkei close strong, Shanghai ends in green

Yoshikazu Tsuno | AFP | Getty Images

Asian equities closed higher in Thursday's afternoon session, boosted by a positive reaction from Wall Street overnight to the release of Federal Reserve's October meeting minutes that signaled a likely interest rate hike in December.

U.S. markets all ended in positive territory, with the Nasdaq Composite outperforming to close 1.79 percent or 89.19 points higher. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 247.66 points or 1.42 percent higher while the S&P 500 finished 1.62 percent or 33.14 points up.

The Federal Open Market Committee's October minutes showed most members felt that economic conditions for a rate hike would be met by the next time the committee met in December. This was despite continued volatility being seen across global markets as a result of geopolitical issues, dampened commodity prices and an economic slowdown in China.

Investors also appeared to have taken the latest developments in France in their stride, after a police raid in the Parisian suburb of Saint-Denis, which lasted nearly six hours, resulted in the arrests of more suspects linked to the deadly terror attacks last Friday.

Chinese market sticks to the line, finishes strong

Greater China markets continued the pan-Asian trend and traded higher in the afternoon session. The main Shanghai composite index traded 1 percent higher from the previous session. The smaller Shenzhen composite and Chinext saw gains between 2 and 3 percent while the CSI 300 index was up 1 percent.

Beijing Bank shares stayed well ahead of the pack, closing some 10 percent higher. On the flip side, the likes of China Citic Bank, Poly Real Estate, Agriculture Bank of China, and Petrochina saw the biggest losses on the Shanghai composite.

On Wednesday, China Citic Bank announced a tie-up with local internet firm Baidu to set up a bank to take advantage of China's booming online finance market, according to reports. Dubbed Baixin Bank, the two companies will pour in an initial investment of 2 billion yuan ($313.34 million) in cash as registered capital for the venture.

Baidu shares were up some 4 percent.

Chinese energy stocks finished mixed as oil prices saw marginal gains during Asian trade. U.S. crude futures were up 0.42 percent while t he internationally traded Brent crude futures saw 0.84 percent gains. Shares of Sinopec and China Oil Field Services were up between 0.5 and 1.5 percent while PetroChina saw a marginal decline.

Away from the mainland, Hong Kong's Hang Seng index closed 1.4 percent higher.

Shares of Tencent, which trades in Hong Kong, were up 0.66 percent after The Wall Street Journal reported WeBank, an affiliate of the company, was seeking to raise around $1 billion in capital to beef up its financial-services offerings.

Glencore shares were also up some 6 percent despite the company's ongoing struggles with falling commodities prices.

Symbol
Name
Price
 
Change
%Change
NIKKEI
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HSI
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ASX 200
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SHANGHAI
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KOSPI
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CNBC 100
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Nikkei closed on a 3-month high, edged closer to 20,000

The Nikkei maintained its gains throughout the trading session, closing 1.07 percent or 210.65 points higher than the previous trading day to finish at 19859.81, the highest since August.

Earlier in the day, the Bank of Japan kept monetary policy unchanged, following a two-day meeting. Japan's Finance ministry also released the October trade day, which hit a surplus of 111.5 billion yen ($902.5 million). October exports fell 2.1 percent on-year, dropping for the first time in 14 months. Imports fell 13.4 percent.

The Japanese yen marginally pulled back against the U.S. dollar, fetching 123.23, even as the country entered technical recession this week.

The gloomy outlook did little to deter investors as most of the export-oriented stocks, such as Toyota,Nissan, Honda, Toshiba and Fast Retailing, finished in the green. Electronics manufacturer Sharp was the top gainer on the index, as its shares closed 5 percent higher.

Internet and telecommunication giant Softbank saw its shares in the red, down by over one percent. Airline shares were also down as Japan Airlines and ANA shares dipped close to 1 percent.

Blue chips, tech stocks finish strongly on the Kospi

The Kospi followed its Japanese and Australian counterparts to close 26 points, or 1.33 percent, higher to finish at 1988.91.

Korean blue chip stocks such as Samsung Electronics, Posco, and Hyundai Motor finished in positive territory while technology shares such as SK Hynix and LG Electronics displayed strong gains between 2 and 4 percent.

On the retail front, shares of Lotte Shopping held up in the green despite news emerging that Korea Customs Service, which previously denied Lotte a duty-free license, had awarded a license to a competitor. Local department store giant Shinsegae was given the license to operate a duty-free shop in Seoul's Myeong-dong district, according to reports.

Shinsegae shares closed near 2 percent at the end of trade.

Apple partners in Taiwan finish strong

Taiwan's Taiex closed 1.64 percent higher, following the strong performances in equity markets across Asia.

Apple suppliers manufacturers in the country received a boost in their shares after the tech giant's shares soared some 3 percent following a note from Goldman Sachs. The note said the bank expected Apple shares to rise 43 percent in the next 12 months.

Largan Precision, which provides lenses modules to the iPhone maker, registered the highest gains to close 4.3 percent higher. Hon Hai, the biggest manufacturer in the country for Apple, ended with a near 1 percent gain after trading mostly flat. Pegatron and Taiwan Semiconductor also ticked up, with gains between 1 and 3 percent.

ASX closes near a two-week high as banks, resources producers rally

The ASX closed near a two-week high, registering a 2.13 percent gain to point 109 points higher at 5242.6. Banks and resources producers capitalized on overnight gains in Wall Street.

Australian banks finished strongly on expectations that the U.S. Federal Reserve will likely hike interest rates in December. Among the big four banks, NAB registered the highest gains, closing 3.09 percent higher in Thursday trading.

Resources producers also received a boost despite weak commodity prices. South32 finished with a 6 percent gain after the company announced it slashed its net debt in half. Shares of Rio Tinto, Orica, and gold miner Newcrest also closed strongly. Atlas Iron bucked the positive trend and ended the session down 4.17 percent.

BHP Billiton was in the spotlight as the company held its annual general meeting, where chairman Jack Nasser addressed shareholders in Perth to announce BHP commissioned an external investigation into the Samarco iron ore mine disaster in Brazil. He also maintained the company's stance on a progressive dividend policy, even as BHP struggles to produce favorable results.

Rob Brierley, head of research at Patersons Securities told CNBC's "Street Signs Asia" it will be tough for BHP to maintain its dividend policy in the long term. He said, "They are making significant inroads and they can survive this for a year or maybe even 18 months but the reality is that you don't want to be spending more than you are making."

Shares of BHP closed in the green, up some 3 percent from the previous trading day. Despite this, BHP shares are trading near 7-year low after the mining giant saw its annual profit drop 86 percent in August.

Oil producers mostly also saw an uptick in their stocks in early morning trade, with the exception of Santos.

Elsewhere, shares of James Hardie plunged nearly 8 percent after the building materials supplier delivered a flat quarterly earnings result and gave a profit warning for subsequent quarters.

The Australian dollar also slid against the U.S. dollar, fetching $0.7165, after the Fed comments overnight made a strong case for an upcoming interest rate hike later this year.