Asian stock markets advanced Wednesday as investor sentiment turned positive overnight following upbeat economic reports from the U.S.
Japan's benchmark Nikkei gained 0.16 percent or 24.49 points to 12,488.32, Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 0.70 percent or 170.49 points to 22,466.99 and the Chinese Shanghai Composite advanced 0.34 percent, while South Korean KOSPI Composite gained 0.44 percent and India's BSE Sensex rose 0.12 percent.
Markets opened on a positive note, following the overnight gains from the Wall Street as better-than-expected durable goods orders data reinforced the view that the world’s largest economy's recovery is gaining steam. The Dow Jones Industrial Average touched another record high, while S&P 500 closed just shy of its all-time high.
Data released by the Census Bureau Tuesday showed that durable goods orders surged in February due to strong rebound in demand for transportation equipment. Meanwhile, single-family home prices in the country marked the biggest annual gain in over six years in January.
Durable goods orders, which measure the change in the total value of new orders for long lasting manufactured goods, climbed 5.7 percent in February after a revised 3.8 percent drop in January and also topped Reuters' estimate of a 3.8 percent gain.
"Sentiment is not at all weak and the U.S. is clearly leading the markets higher. Europe will likely remain in doldrums but the U.S. is recovering and China is also expected to keep its economy going under the new leadership,” Tetsuro Ii, the Chief Executive of Commons Asset Management, in Tokyo, told Reuters.
Japanese shares advanced, led by gains from exporter and financial companies shares. Panasonic Corp. climbed 5.20 percent and Sony Corp. gained 1.26 percent while Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc. advanced 0.36 percent.
Gains in financial and property developer shares lifted Hong Kong’s Hang Seng. China Overseas Land & Investment Ltd. surged 2.57 percent and Wharf Holdings Ltd. climbed 5.43 percent while Agricultural Bank of China Ltd gained 1.32 percent.
In Seoul, Hyundai Motor Co gained 1.81 percent and Kia Motor Corp. surged 2.15 percent, while Samsung Electronics Co Ltd. declined 0.27 percent.