Asian stocks edged up on Tuesday, with markets in South Korea and Taiwan closing at 14-month highs, as investors put their faith in the global economic recovery and looked past a trade spat between the United States and China.
European shares opened slightly higher, with futures on the Dow Jones Euro Stoxx 50 up 0.4 percent.
The technology and exporter sectors were the biggest gainers on a day without a major theme driving the markets in Asia. LG Electronics <066570.KS>, the world's No. 3 handset maker, jumped more than 3 percent in Seoul to snap a weeklong slide.
Investors want to know if the U.S. economy is ready for a turnaround without government help and how consumers are faring, said Kim Young-june, a market analyst at SK Securities in Seoul, before U.S. retail sales data is released later.
The Nikkei average <.N225> rose 0.2 percent as companies such as Canon Inc <7751.T> bounced back from a slide sparked by the yen's jump to a seven-month high against the dollar, which took the Japanese currency into territory seen as damaging to exporter earnings.
The yen slipped beyond 91 per dollar, providing some relief to investors worried that sustained gains would prove a serious obstacle to Japan Inc's gradual recovery this year.
While officials in the outgoing Japanese government voiced concern about the yen's rise, the former finance minister tipped to again take the helm of the ministry -- Hirohisa Fujii -- has said Japan should not intervene in markets.
Market participants speculate Fujii may be more tolerant of a stronger yen and reluctant about intervening in the forex market, said Makoto Yamashita, chief Japan interest rate strategist at Deutsche Securities in Tokyo.
Japan has racked up foreign reserves totaling more than $1 trillion, second only to China's, from its previous bouts of yen-selling intervention.
But Japan has stayed out of the market since 2004, even during last year's violent yen surge as leveraged carry trades were unwound. The lack of action has stirred questions about whether Tokyo has already adopted a more hands-off currency policy.
Trading activity was limited during the day because Hong Kong's financial markets were closed for the morning as Typhoon Koppu swept through the city. The Hong Kong bourse was set to open for the afternoon session.
Taiwan's TAIEX <.TWII> outperformed the region, climbing 1.2 percent to a 14-month high on hopes that the launch of Microsoft's Windows 7 will boost demand for PC makers such as Asustek <2357.TW>.
Seoul's KOSPI <.KS11> rose 1.1 percent, with financial shares such as Shinhan Financial Group <055550.KS> leading gains.
The MSCI index of Asia-Pacific shares <.MIAPJ0000PUS> was up 0.9 percent, recouping some of the previous day's losses and hovering just below a one-year peak struck last week. For the year, the MSCI benchmark for Asia is still up about 53 percent.
On Monday, the U.S. S&P 500 <.SPX> edged up 0.6 percent and reached its highest levels of 2009 after a slew of merger activity suggested big investors still see value in the market following this year's rebound.
Optimism about potential deals overshadowed concerns about trade friction between the United States and China after Washington imposed special duties on Chinese tire imports.
China unveiled data on Tuesday showing that tire exports fell in the first half of a year to rebut Washington's accusation it was flooding the U.S. market, even as both countries moved to allay concerns about a trade war.
The battered U.S. dollar edged down in Asia, falling back toward a one-year low touched on Friday. The dollar index <.DXY>, a gauge of its performance against six major currencies, was down 0.1 percent at 76.596.
The pound helped drag the dollar lower, rising 0.4 percent to $1.6640 after a report showing house prices in England and Wales rose for the first time in two years in August.
Against the yen, the dollar edged up 0.2 percent to 91.10 yen, pulling up from the seven-month low of 90.18 yen hit on Monday. The euro dipped 0.1 percent to $1.4615 but hovered near a nine-month high.
The Australian dollar slipped after the country's central bank felt the economy was substantially stronger than expected at this month's policy meeting but decided there was enough uncertainty over the outlook to argue against a rate hike, according to meeting minutes.
The Aussie dipped 0.2 percent to $0.8604, just below a one-year high.
Safe-haven government bonds lost ground as stock markets stabilised. The benchmark 10-year Japanese government bond yield edged up 2 basis points to 1.310 percent, holding in a range between 1.285 percent and 1.355 percent over the past few weeks.