Asian shares firmed on Wednesday as rising global commodity prices boosted energy and resource stocks, while investors largely shrugged off data from China suggesting growth there is starting to slow.

Oil prices and the euro dipped briefly after China's April inflation came in slightly above expectations, but other data, including industrial output, suggested slower activity and less room for aggressive tightening to curb growth.

Price pressures are still uncomfortably strong, but there are some signs in today's data that policy measures put in place over the last six months or so are having an impact, said Brian Jackson, an economist with Royal Bank of Canada in Hong Kong.

Stocks remained supported by a recovery in commodities after last week's near-record sell-off and an easing of concerns about any Greek debt restructure following a debt downgrade.

The dominant theme this week is whether last week's fall in commodities was just a speculative reversal rather than a brutal reassessment and it appears that, yes, it was. The market was running ahead of itself, said Adrian Foster, head of financial markets research, Asia-Pacific at Rabobank International in Hong Kong.

Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 index <.N225> closed up 0.5 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng <.HSI> was flat and South Korea's Kospi <.KS11> was up 1.3 percent after a holiday on Tuesday.

Asian shares outside Japan <.MIAPJ0000PUS> rose 1.1 percent on Wednesday, while Australia's S&P/ASX 200 <.AXJO> up 1.2 percent, with global miner Rio Tinto moving up 1.8 percent.

The euro held on to gains in Asia, trading at $1.4392. The currency has been moving away from a three-week low, helped by stabilizing commodity prices and chances of another aid package for Greece.

However, a further move to the upside could be constrained by the chance of more negative news about the prospects of the euro zone's efforts to help Greece and other financially strained countries.


China's headline consumer price inflation slowed to 5.3 percent in April from a 32-month high of 5.4 percent in March, but missed market forecasts for a decline to 5.2 percent.

The overall data was mixed with industrial output considerably weaker than expected, climbing 13.4 percent in April and retail sales also coming in below forecasts.

The economy is slowing, but not very seriously, said Chen Gang, an economist with CEBM in Shanghai. It is still far from the warning line for the Chinese leadership. There is no room for the central bank to relax its monetary tightening.

The inflation data followed Chinese trade figures on Tuesday that suggested still-strong global demand, although a slowdown in imports raised concerns for some analysts about slower growth.

Analysts said it was clear the economy was slowing but were divided on the likely policy response to curb inflation.

China's central bank has raised interest rates four times since October and Premier Wen Jiabao has signaled a hawkish stance for the coming months to bring inflation under control. The government has a 4 percent ceiling on annual inflation.

Spot gold edged up 0.4 percent to 1522.74, heading for a fourth day in a row of gains, while silver rose 1 percent.

Gold is generally benefiting from the return of confidence from investors, said Darren Heathcote, head of trading at Ivestec Australia. They are very happy buying on the dip, as we see the same old problems hanging around.

Oil prices recovered from an initial dip on the China data to be slightly higher. Brent crude was trading at $117.86, continuing the march back from last week's steep fall as rising waters along the Mississippi River threatened to disrupt petroleum plants in Louisiana in the next two weeks.

The Australian dollar, which is sensitive to Chinese demand for the country's coal and iron ore, was little changed at $1.0857.