Asia Ends Higher, Nikkei Up on Recovery Hopes

Asian stocks climbed higher on Wednesday, after Wall Street hits new highs on strong manufacturing data and easing concerns about the Middle East.

Japan's Nikkei 225 scored its biggest daily gain in two months on Wednesday with all sectors ending higher. The index ended up 1.8 percent.

Daiwa Securities, Japan's No.2 brokerage, jumped 4.7 percent after it reported its first profit in four quarters on Tuesday, as a rebound in Japanese share prices lifted fees from stock trading.

Mitsubishi Materials rose 4.8 percent after the Nikkei business daily reported that it is expected to report a roughly 45 billion yen ($553 million) group pretax profit for the nine months ended on Dec. 31, a turnaround from the year-earlier 20.3 billion yen loss, as its core businesses fared well.

Mitsubishi Electric surged 7.4 percent to 996 yen after its president said there was a chance its full-year earnings estimate would be raised.

The company retained its full-year outlook for an operating profit of 205 billion yen ($2.52 billion), slightly below an average estimate of 218.6 billion yen in a poll of 16 analysts by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index climbed 1.8 percent in a shortened session.

Australian stocks closed 0.9 percent higher, after record prices for copper boosted miners, though insurers were mixed ahead of a powerful cyclone due to strike northeast Australia.

Shares in insurer IAG fell 2.4 percent to A$3.64, as Cyclone Yasi threatened northeast Australia just weeks after devastating floods.

Yasi was upgraded to a maximum-strength category five storm, the most destructive seen for generations, with the prospect of serious damage and risk to life.

Suncorp Group, whose home insurance provides automatic cover for floods, and QBE Insurance both fell during the day.

Top miners led the move higher, after copper touched a record on Tuesday. BHP Billiton shares gained 2.4 percent to A$45.50, while Rio Tinto also posted gains.

Retailers and consumer stocks were firm across the board, with top department store Myer and brewer Foster's both gaining.

Singapore shares closed up 0.8 percent.

Shares of casino operator Genting Singapore rose as much as 3.9 percent on hopes it will post better fourth quarter result compared to the previous quarter.

Indian shares rose amid firmer Asian markets as bargain hunting kicked in a day after the main index notched up its lowest close in five months.

Shares in Bharti Airtel fell as much as 3.3 percent after India's top mobile phone carrier posted a bigger-than-expected fall in quarterly profit, but then turned positive and climbed 1 percent.

The main 30-share BSE index was trading up 1.2 percent.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index closed up 1.8 percent in thin trade during a shortened trading session ahead of the new year holiday.

The FTSE CNBC Asia 100 index rose 1.7 percent.

Markets in China, South Korea and Taiwan were closed ahead of the Lunar New Year holidays which start Thursday.