Asian stocks rose on Wednesday as strong results from chip maker Intel Corp prompted a rally in tech shares, while renewed strength in metals prices boosted materials companies and also lifted the commodity-linked Australian dollar.

Upbeat U.S. and European corporate earnings helped soothe market sentiment, which had been roiled at the start of the week when rating agency S&P warned it could cut the United States' sovereign credit rating and as speculation intensified that Greece would need to restructure its debt.

Index futures pointed to a higher opening for European and U.S. stock markets, with Euro STOXX 50 futures up 1.2 percent and S&P 500 futures gaining 0.5 percent.

All guns are blazing at the moment in the right direction, said Austock Group senior client adviser Michael Heffernan.

The euro bounced off a two-week low, with business activity data from France and Germany supporting expectations that the European Central Bank will continue lifting interest rates, boosting the single currency's yield advantage over the dollar.

Rising equities and a weaker dollar renewed interest in commodities, with Brent crude reaching $122 a barrel, copper rising and gold hitting a record above $1,500 an ounce.

After the Wall Street close, Intel reported strong sales and forecast quarterly revenues well above Wall Street estimates.

U.S. stocks had been lifted by strong earnings from materials and healthcare firms such as Johnson & Johnson .

Japan's Nikkei share average <.N225> rose 1.8 percent with chip stocks prominent among the gainers, although some market players said the Intel report had prompted short-covering rather than the start of a turnaround in the fortunes of the tech sector, which has underperformed this year. <.T>

The market is rebounding, but it's nothing more than short-covering, said Kenichi Hirano, a strategist at Tachibana Securities. Investors will not go long until they see Japanese corporate earnings later this month.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia Pacific shares outside Japan <.MIAPJ0000PUS> rose 1.8 percent, with the tech sub-index <.MIAPJIT00PUS> up 3.4 percent and the materials sector <.MIAPJMT00PUS> gaining 2.3 percent.

The S&P 500 <.SPX> rose 0.6 percent on Tuesday, while the Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> gained 0.5 percent. <.N>


The euro traded around $1.44, having bounced off a two-week low around $1.4155 set on Monday.

The European Central Bank earlier this month raised its key interest rate from a record low, and analysts see further tightening in the pipeline.

With the Bank of Japan and U.S. Federal Reserve expected to keep their monetary policy ultra-loose for the time being, the dollar and yen have become the currencies of choice for the carry trade -- the strategy of use cheap loans to fund investments in higher yielding assets.

The hunt for yield is boosting the Australian dollar, which hit a fresh 29-year high around $1.0599.

The yen was pressured by data showing Japan logged a smaller-than-expected trade surplus in March, a sign of the disruption to supply chains caused by a massive March 11 earthquake and tsunami in the northeast.

There is little doubt that this is a factor for the yen to weaken, said Daisuke Karakama, market economist for Mizuho Corporate Bank in Tokyo.

Two factors that had supported yen strength until now are shrinking U.S.-Japan interest rate differentials and exporter flows. Today's data shows that one of those is weakening.

The dollar rose 0.4 percent from late U.S. trade on Tuesday to 82.94 yen. Measured against a basket of major currencies, the dollar <.DXY> fell 0.2 percent.

Gold hit a record $1,500.16 and silver hit a 31-year high at $44.34 an ounce. London metal exchange copper rose 1 percent to $9,438 a metric ton.

A weaker dollar tends to boost the attractiveness of commodities, which are mostly priced in the U.S. currency.

Oil prices rose, helped by a larger-than-expected draw in U.S. stockpiles. Brent crude was up 0.6 percent at $122.04 a barrel and U.S. crude gained 0.8 percent to $109.09.

(Additional reporting by Ian Chua and Victoria Thieberger in Sydney and Masayuki Kitano in Singapore; Editing by Richard Borsuk)