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Asia markets advance, bolstered by oil's rise overnight; Samsung shares up 3.8%

Asian markets open higher, tracking US gains

Asian markets advanced Thursday, bolstered by overnight rises in oil prices, while shares of South Korea's Samsung Electronics jumped after a U.S. activist investor called for a corporate overhaul.

In South Korea, the Kospi closed up 0.6 percent, or 12.30 points, at 2,065.3, even after Typhoon Chaba hit the southern parts of the country on Wednesday.

In South Korea, Typhoon Chaba killed at least three people and flooded the country's biggest port in the city of Busan, industrial sites and factories, and dozens of flights were cancelled, Reuters reported.

Shares of Hyundai Motor fell 0.71 percent, after Reuters reported that two of its factories suspended operations because of "inflow of water" from the typhoon.

But the main index got support from heavily weighted Samsung Electronics, which jumped 4.45 percent after Reuters reported U.S. hedge fund Elliot Management published a letter calling on the South Korean firm's board of directors to make several corporate governance changes, including splitting the company and increasing its dividend.

Samsung Electronics said in a statement that it would carefully consider the proposals made by Elliot Management, and that it "believes in constructive and open dialogue," reported Reuters.

Samsung's construction arm, Samsung C&T, also got a boost from the news and jumped 7.89 percent.

Japan's benchmark closed up 0.47 percent, or 79.86 points, at 16,899.1, as the yen continued to weaken against the dollar. The dollar-yen currency pair was trading at 103.61 as of 2:13 pm HK/SIN, compared with levels around 101 yen last week.

Hong Kong's was up 0.47 percent in afternoon Asian trade. Chinese mainland markets remain closed for Golden Week holidays.

Australia's ASX 200 finished up 0.55 percent, or 30.075 points, at 5,483, with its energy subindex gaining 1.97 percent and the heavily-weighed financials subindex rising 0.7 percent.

Helping to support markets, oil prices climbed overnight after the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said crude stockpiles fell by 3 million barrels last week, the fifth unexpected weekly drawdown in U.S. oil inventories.

During Asian trade, U.S. crude futures were down 0.5 percent at $49.58 a barrel, after rising more than 2 percent overnight. Brent futures also fell 0.48 percent to $51.61 a barrel after rising 1.8 percent overnight.

Asia-Pacific Market Indexes Chart

In Japan, shares of Fujitsu surged 5.67 percent, after media reports that the company might dispose of its PC business, potentially to Lenovo.

In Australia, aged care provider Estia Health's shares slid 3.03 percent, recovering from losses of more than 6.67 percent after it trimmed its earnings guidance. Its shares had tumbled late in August when Australian regulators warned providers they could not make residents pay for capital maintenance.

"Analysts fear [Estia's guidance change] will follow recent negative trends in the aged care sub-sector, and trigger further selling," said Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets, in a Thursday note.

On the data front, Australia posted a lower-than-expected seasonally-adjusted trade deficit of A$2.01 billion in August, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. The value of imports and exports in August were nearly unchanged from the previous month.

Positive U.S. data released Wednesday helped to give Wall Street a boost.

September ISM non-manufacturing came in stronger than expected at 57.1, compared with a Reuters poll estimate of 53. Factory orders also increased slightly in August, while the trade deficit in the U.S. widened more than expected in August, and mortgage applications increased 2.9 percent last week.

The closed up 0.62 percent at 18,281.03, the S&P 500 gained 0.43 percent to 2,159.73 and the finished up 0.5 at 5,316.02.

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