Asia Markets

Nikkei advances more than 1% on yen weakness

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Japan's benchmark index rose more than 1 percent on Thursday as regional manufacturing surveys led by China beat expectations and on upbeat views a day after OPEC reached its first deal since 2008 to cut oil production.

The closed 1.12 percent, or 204.64 points, at 18,513.12, led by energy stocks such as Inpex, which was up 9.95 percent and Japan Petroleum Exploration, which jumped 12.2 percent. A weaker yen helped as well. The yen traded around 114.12 against the greenback as of 2:11 pm HK/SIN, compared to levels as low as 112 earlier this week.

Australia's ASX 200 finished up 1.1 percent, or 59.77 points, at 5,500.24. The benchmark was led by strong gains in its energy sub-index, which was up 7.21 percent and its materials sub-index, which gained 2.88 percent.

Official statistics showed the Australia's business investment fell by 4 percent in the third-quarter, a steeper fall than Reuters analysts forecast of a 2.5 percent decline. The fall in investments will likely impact the third-quarter gross domestic product due Dec. 7.

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Chinese shares were in positive territory, the closed up 0.74 percent, or 24.04 points, at 3,274.07 while the Shenzhen composite ended 0.607 percent higher, or 12.78 points, at 2,119.69. In Hong Kong, the index was up 0.40 percent at 3:10 pm local time.

China's official manufacturing Purchasing Managers' index (PMI) was up at 51.7, versus a Reuters poll of 51.0.

Meanwhile, China's Caixin/Markit Manufacturing PMI dipped to 50.9, lower than 51.2 in October, but better than analysts expected. As well, Japan's manufacturing PMI for November came in at 51.3 a tad better than the 51.1 expected.

PMIs are indicators of the economic health of the manufacturing sector, and a reading under 50 represents a contraction, while a reading above 50 indicates expansion.

South Korea's Kospi was near flat at 1,983.75.

Statistics Korea data showed November consumer price index (CPI) rose 1.3 percent in year-on-year, missing a Reuters survey expecting a 1.5 percent increase in consumer prices. The Bank of Korea's inflation target stands at 2 percent, which leaves room for it to ease policy further.

South Korea also announced its November trade figures, which showed that exports rose 2.7 percent year-on-year, compared to a Reuters poll estimating exports would rise by just 1.2 percent. Imports jumped 10.1 percent from the previous year, beating Reuters' forecast of 2.9 percent increase. Shipments to China also grew for the first time in 17 months, the trade ministry said.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) surprised the markets on Wednesday with an agreement to cut oil production by 1.2 million barrels a day, in an effort to support oil prices. Crude oil prices have declined by more than half since mid-2014 because of global oversupply and an increase of U.S. shale production

"The first joint production cut by OPEC-Russia in eight years is likely to accelerate the rebalancing of the crude oil market and provide a durable support to oil prices [but] higher oil prices would have quite disparate effects on different EM Asian countries." said Chang Wei Liang from Mizuho Bank Singapore, in a note on Thursday.

During Asian trade, oil prices continued to climb after rising more than 8 percent overnight. Brent futures were up 1.66 percent at $52.68 a barrel, while U.S. crude futures were up 1.54 percent at $50.18.

Major oil companies in the region also received a leg-up from the OPEC deal. Australia's Santos was up 11.7 percent at A$4.39 per share, while Oil Search gained 9.15 percent at A$7.04. China's PetroChina was up 1.97 percent to 7.77 yuan and Sinopec jumped 2.93 percent to 5.27 yuan.

What the dollar surge means

On the currencies front, the was trading at 101.29 against a basket of major currencies as of 2:18 pm HK/SIN, while the Australian dollar/U.S. dollar was at $0.7411.

"Risks remain skewed to the downside for Australian dollar, with a break below $0.73 more likely than $0.75. The perceived inflationary pressures from higher oil prices and Trump entering the White House don't appear to be fully priced into the greenback, whilst U.S. data continues to warrant a December hike and Hawkish FED next year," said Matt Simpson, senior market analyst at ThinkMarkets, in a Thursday note.

Gold prices were up 0.15 percent, trading at $1,174.73 an ounce pressured by dollar strength. Spot gold had fallen to its lowest since early February at $1,163.45 earlier.

Over at Wall Street, the closed near flat at 19,123.58, the S&P 500 slipped 0.27 percent at 2,198.81, while the composite finished 1.05 percent lower at 5,323.68.

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