(Reuters) - Southeast Asian stock markets climbed higher on Wednesday, cheered by better economic news from the United States, with a rally in global oil prices boosting commodities-related shares across the board.
The Nikkei stock average climbed on Wednesday in a market encouraged by smooth debt sales in Spain and positive housing data in the United States, but gains were capped by resistance at its 25-day moving average.
The Nikkei's rise was less than half of the huge gains in Wall Street shares on Tuesday, and was driven mainly by buybacks in battered shares such as shipmakers and steelmakers.
A lack of a major trading theme led short-term traders to turn their eyes to volatile shares of troubled firms, such as Tokyo Electric Power Co and Olympus Corp, the two most active shares on Wednesday.
The benchmark Nikkei rose 1.5 percent to 8,459.98, just below the closely watched 25-day moving average near 8,462. The broader Topix index gained 1 percent to 725.68.
Today's price action gave me the impression that the 25-day moving average capped the Nikkei's gains, said Toshiyuki Kanayama, a market analyst at Monex Securities.
Wall Street shares surged 3 percent on Tuesday after U.S. housing starts and permits for future construction surged to a 1-1/2 year high in November, reinforcing the view that the U.S. economy will continue to see moderate growth.
Some traders said regional markets were also supported by news the authorities in Taiwan would step in to support the Taipei bourse after recent volatility.
Turnover in Southeast Asia remained weak as the unresolved euro zone debt problems deterred many investors, even though European stocks rallied and the euro was well bid on the day.
Most market analysts expect any rally in Southeast Asian bourses to be temporary.
We may see a risk rally into New Year, but once we are into 2012 we see the dark clouds re-forming and the Europe situation deteriorating, said Saxo Bank analyst Andrew Robinson in Singapore.
Under those circumstances we are quite pessimistic on the whole investment scenario in the first quarter, he said.
Singapore's Straits Times Index snapped two days of losses to finish 2.25 percent higher at a one-week high. It has slumped 16.2 percent this year due to its relatively large exposure to the global economy.
Turnover in Singapore was just half its 30-day average and it was much the same in the Philippines and Thailand as the end-year holidays approached.
Stocks in Malaysia rose 1.4 percent and Thailand gained 1 percent, both hovering around two-week highs.
Indonesia pushed up to three-week highs, ending up 1.12 percent.
The Philippine index edged up 0.6 percent to the highest in more than a month and Vietnam was up 0.56 percent.
Gains in Bangkok and Jakarta were led by energy shares.
Thailand's second-biggest energy stock, PTT Exploration and Production Pcl, jumped 4.2 percent, helped by a minister's comment that it had won bidding for two oil blocks in Myanmar.. Indonesia's PT Energi Mega Persada Tbk surged 6.6 percent.
Financials were among the most actively traded stocks elsewhere, with a 3.5 percent climb in Malaysia's AMMB Holdings Bhd and a 1.4 percent gain in Manila's BDO Unibank Inc.
(Additional reporting by Hideyuki Sano and by the Reuters Singapore bureau.)