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Asia stocks rise on the back of an overnight bounce on Wall Street

Key Points
  • Overnight on Wall Street, major stock indexes saw their best day since March after the release of strong quarterly results from some of the largest U.S. companies.
  • U.S. President Donald Trump criticized the Fed again on Tuesday, calling it his "biggest threat."

Stocks in Asia were broadly higher on Wednesday following a bounce on Wall Street overnight on strong U.S. earnings.

The mainland Chinese markets saw a bounce in the afternoon to close higher, with the Shanghai composite advancing by 0.6 percent at around 2,561.61 while the Shenzhen composite gained 0.81 percent at approximately 1,266.55.

China trimmed its holdings of U.S. Treasurys in August by about $6 billion, to the lowest level since June 2017. China's holdings of Treasury bills, notes and bonds fell to $1.165 trillion, from $1.171 trillion in July, according to U.S. Treasury data.

In Japan, the advanced by 1.29 percent to close at 22,841.12, while the Topix index gained 1.54 percent to end the trading day at 1,713.87, with most sectors still trending up.

Shares of Softbank shed some of their earlier gains but closed 2.13 percent higher after the company's Chief Operating Officer Marcelo Claure said it was "anxiously looking" at developments related to the disappearance of Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Softbank has close ties to the Saudi administration, with a significant proportion of its investment capital stemming from the country.

In South Korea, the Kospi advanced by 1.04 percent to close at 2,167.51, with shares of industry heavyweight Samsung Electronics seeing gains of 1.26 percent.

The ASX 200 also gained 1.18 percent to close at 5,939.1, with most sectors higher — the energy subindex was up by 0.64 percent, while the heavily weighted financials industry saw a gain of 1.38 percent.

Hong Kong's stock market is closed for a public holiday.

Asia-Pacific Market Indexes Chart

Stocks on Wall Street leap from strong quarterly earnings

Overnight on Wall Street, the major indexes saw saw their best day since March, with stocks rising on the back of strong quarterly results. The Dow Jones Industrial Average leaped by 547.87 points to close at 25,798.42, while the rose by 2.1 percent to end the trading day stateside at 2,809.92. The Nasdaq Composite also jumped by 2.9 percent to close at 7,645.49.

The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX), widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, plunged by more than 17 percent to 17.62 on Tuesday, after hitting its highest level since February last week. The VIX measures implied volatility on S&P 500 index options.

"I think most analysts and investors are worried that the rally has lasted so long, so many years, and they're looking for any little thing to tip the scale," said Peter Andersen, CIO at Andersen Capital Management, told CNBC's "Squawk Box" on Wednesday.

"The earnings season will sober people up a bit more and see that there is much more growth to this economy" than thought by the majority, Andersen said.

Meanwhile, U.S. President Donald Trump continued his criticism of the Federal Reserve, calling it his "biggest threat" as it was "raising rates too fast." In an interview with Fox Business, Trump said, in reference to Fed Chair Jerome Powell: "I'm not happy with what he's doing because it's going too fast. Because — you look at the last inflation numbers, they're very low."

Currencies and oil

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 95.138 in the afternoon of Asian trade, after seeing lows below 94.8 yesterday.

Meanwhile, the Japanese yen was at 112.24 against the dollar after weakening from levels around 111.8 yesterday. The Australian dollar traded at $0.7141 after seeing a low below the 0.712 mark yesterday.

In the oil markets, prices shed most of their earlier gains but remained higher in the afternoon of Asian trade. The global benchmark Brent crude futures contract gained 0.17 percent at $81.55 per barrel, while the U.S. crude futures contract also advanced by 0.17 percent to $72.04 per barrel.

Correction: This article was updated to reflect that the yen weakened in yesterday's trading session.

— CNBC's Fred Imbert, Patti Domm and Reuters contributed to this report.