In Seoul, the Kospi tacked on 0.02 percent to end at 2,515.81. Samsung Electronics bounced 0.56 percent after recording losses in the last session. Rival chipmaker SK Hynix also saw gains, climbing 1.48 percent by the end of the day. Lotte Shopping fell 1.49 percent as other retail sector stocks traded mixed.
The Bank of Korea on Thursday held interest rates steady at 1.5 percent, as was mostly expected. The central bank was seen as likely to stand on the sidelines due to tighter monetary conditions driven by strength in the Korean won, Trinh Nguyen, senior economist at Natixis, said in a Wednesday note.
Over in Sydney, the S&P/ASX 200 finished lower by 0.02 percent at 6,014.6 as gains in the heavily weighted financials sector were offset by losses in energy-linked stocks and gold producers.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index rose 0.47 percent at 3:14 p.m. HK/SIN after recording its second straight record close in the last session. Financials were most higher, with HSBC rising 0.53 percent and China Construction Bank advancing 2.69 percent. Property developers traded in negative territory in the afternoon, with Country Garden falling 1.55 percent by 3:18 p.m. HK/SIN.
Mainland stocks closed at their highest levels in two years, according to Reuters. The Shanghai composite advanced 0.91 percent to close at 3,475.91 and the Shenzhen composite added 0.13 percent to end at 1,924.2. The blue chip CSI 300 index closed 0.58 percent higher as banking shares extended gains, with Industrial and Commercial Bank of China closing 6.25 percent higher.
China data released after the market close showed the economy grew 6.9 percent last year, above the official target of around 6.5 percent. Other numbers released in the afternoon were mixed: December retail sales rose 9.4 percent on year, missing the 10.1 percent forecast in a Reuters poll, but industrial output topped estimates.
On the corporate earnings front, Taiwan's TSMC announced that its fourth-quarter net profit came in at 99.29 billion Taiwan dollars ($3.4 billion) — 0.9 percent less than the year-ago period. The figure, however, came in slightly above the T$97.78 billion forecast in a Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S poll.
U.S. stocks closed higher, with the Dow Jones industrial average advancing 322.79 points to finish above the 26,000 level for the first time.
Other major stock indexes stateside also saw gains after the release of expectation-topping earnings from several U.S. corporates. U.S. investors also awaited developments related to a potential government shutdown should Congress fail to pass a funding bill by Friday.