Asian shares rose to their highest in seven months Thursday, boosted by a surge in U.S. housing starts that has followed other positive economic data.

The brighter tone for risk assets weighed on safe-haven U.S. Treasuries, the dollar and the yen, Reuters reported.

The MSCI index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up 0.3 percent, rising for a third day in a row with much of the market's attention set to swing to GDP figures from China, due later in the day.

Australian shares jumped 1 percent to a fresh 15-month high. South Korean shares opened up 0.3 percent and Japan's Nikkei average rose 0.9 percent to its highest in nearly three weeks.

U.S. housing starts surged 15 percent in September, the fastest pace in over four years, bolstering sentiment that had already perked up on a fall in the U.S. jobless rate and strong retail sales.

According to Thomson Reuters data through Wednesday afternoon, quarterly earnings for the Standard & Poor's 500 components will now likely fall 1.7 percent from a year ago, better than a 2.3 percent drop forecast earlier.

In Europe, equity markets also rose Wednesday, continuing to draw support from hopes that Spain will ask for an international bailout and ease jitters over the country's ability to manage its huge debts.

China's third-quarter gross domestic product is due around 0200 GMT.

It will likely show the world's second-largest economy slowed for a seventh straight quarter, missing the government's target for the first time since the depths of the global financial crisis and possibly signaling still worse to come.

The commodities-sensitive Australian dollar traded at $1.0377, hovering near a two-week high of $1.0389 hit on Wednesday.

The U.S. dollar rose to a one-month high of 79.14 yen early on Thursday, with traders keen to see if it will test its 200-day moving average which stands around 79.40.

The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of six major currencies, inched up 0.1 percent to 79.087, off a one-month low of 78.935 seen on Wednesday.

Investors pushed the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury yield to a one-month high of 1.81 percent on Wednesday for its biggest two-day rise since late July.

The euro steadied around $1.3110, after reaching a one-month high of $1.3140 on Wednesday.

Asian credit markets firmed marginally, with the spread on the iTraxx Asia ex-Japan investment-grade index tighter by 1 basis point.

U.S. crude futures were down 0.2 percent at $91.96 a barrel.