Asia markets traded mostly higher Thursday, tracking gains in the U.S. where the Dow Jones industrial average closed above 21,000 and the dollar rose amid growing expectations for an interest rate hike in March.
Most exporters advanced, boosted by a relatively weaker yen. Honda shares rose 0.62 percent, Sony was up 1.53 percent and Canon gained 1.31 percent. Toyota shares gave up early gains to close nearly flat.
The yen traded at 114.16 to the dollar at 4:06 p.m. HK/SIN, weakening from levels below 112.0 reached earlier this week.
Toshiba shares rose 2.7 percent, following reports that Taiwanese manufacturer Foxconn was planning to bid for the Japanese conglomerate's chip business. Last year, Foxconn acquired Japanese electronics company Sharp.
Across the Korean Strait, the Kospi gained 11.01 points, or 0.53 percent, to 2,102.65 after South Korean markets were closed Wednesday for a public holiday. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index finished lower by 48.42 points, or 0.2 percent, at 23,728.07.
Chinese mainland markets also fell behind regional peers; the Shanghai composite closed down 16.36 points, or 0.5 percent, at 3,230.57, while the Shenzhen composite fell 11.15 points, or 0.55 percent, to 1,997.71.
In Australia, the ASX 200 closed up 71.79 points, or 1.26 percent, at 5,776.58, with the heavily-weighted financial sector gaining 1.26 percent.
Major Australian banks gained more than 1 percent each — shares of ANZ rose 1 percent, Commonwealth Bank of Australia was up 1.27 percent, Westpac added 1.03 percent and the National Australia Bank gained 1.06 percent.
Higher interest rates can boost banks' earnings as the spread between their lending and deposit rates can widen.
The dollar index rose to 101.85 at 4:17 p.m. HK/SIN, climbing from levels near 100.8 earlier in the week. The greenback's rise is boosted by growing expectations that the U.S. Federal Reserve could next raise interest rates as early as this month.
"Markets now put an 80 percent probability of a March hike, more than double the odds of one week ago," according to analysts at Singapore's DBS Bank. The analysts said the main driver was New York Fed President William Dudley's comments earlier in the week
Dudley, a close ally of Fed Chair Janet Yellen, said on CNN International Tuesday afternoon that the "case for monetary tightening has become more compelling."
The latest to join the call for hiking rates soon was Fed Governor Lael Brainard.