Asian stocks hit their highest level in 13 months on Thursday and the Australian dollar surged after U.S. economic data raised hopes that the global economic recovery was strengthening.

Shares in Japan <.N225> rose 1.2 percent as a Reuters Tankan survey showed the mood among Japanese manufacturers this month was at its highest level in a year on expectations conditions would improve in the next three months.

Hopes that the pace of global economic recovery was accelerating kept the U.S. dollar close to the one-year low it hit against a basket of currencies <.DXY> on Wednesday, as investors continued to buy riskier assets and higher-yielding currencies, including the Australian dollar, which hit a fresh one-year high.

South Korean authorities were spotted intervening for a second day after the won hit an 11-month high at 1,204.9. Strong sales reports from the country's top three department stores helped push the benchmark KOSPI index <.KS11> up 0.9 percent although there was a note of caution from the Finance Ministry, which said the economy faced high uncertainty.


Gold and oil prices steadied as the dollar stopped sliding. Gold was trading at around $1,016 after hitting an 18-month high on Wednesday but shares of gold miners were still in demand and Australia's Newcrest Mining rose 1.6 percent.

Commodities are looking good again, said Martin Angel, a dealer at Patersons Securities.

A lot of people are suggesting (gold) is a hedge against inflation, so a lot of people are looking around for gold stocks.

Oil steadied above $72 a barrel and was underpinned by data showing a much sharper-than-expected drop in U.S. crude oil stockpiles last week.

Share and commodity markets were buoyed by U.S. data which showed industrial output in the world's biggest economy rose for a second month in August and inflation was tame. That pushed the Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> up 1.1 percent on Wednesday.

In Asia, the MSCI index of Asia Pacific stocks traded outside Japan was up 1.3 percent by mid-morning on Thursday, its highest level since August last year.

Winning stocks included exporters such as Japanese car maker Toyota Motor <7203.T> and electronics giant Sony Corp <6758.T>, as well as South Korea's Hynix Semiconductor <000660.KS>, the world's No. 2 memory chip maker.

Toyota and Sony were up 1.4 and 2.6 percent respectively while Hynix rose 1.7 percent.

Shares of Australian resources shares were also boosted by optimism that global growth could be faster than forecast.

Top miners BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto jumped 1.8 percent and 2.6 percent respectively while Australia's biggest independent oil and gas group, Woodside Petroleum , surged 3.1 percent.

Expected rising demand for commodities helped push the Aussie dollar past $0.8751 to a fresh one-year high while the Kiwi skirted 13-month highs at $0.7157 reached in offshore trade.

China shares <.SSEC> were 1.3 percent higher while Japanese government bonds retreated as Tokyo stocks gained ground -- further evidence that increasingly confident investors are moving away from safe havens into riskier assets.