An investor checks stock information with a computer at a brokerage house in Hefei
An investor checks stock information with a computer at a brokerage house in Hefei, Anhui province Feb. 20, 2012. REUTERS

Asian stocks gained Thursday with investor sentiment turning positive as data from China showed that the world’s second largest economy grew as expected in the third quarter, decreasing the concerns about the rapidly worsening economic conditions.

Japan's Nikkei Stock Average was up 1.51 percent or 133.02 points to 8939.57. Among the major gainers were Sumco Corp (6.15 percent), Advantest Corp (5.77 percent) and Kobe Steel Ltd (4.48 percent).

Chinese Shanghai Composite rose 0.38 percent or 8.08 points to 2113.70. Hong Kong's Hang Seng was up 0.46 percent or 98.77 points to 21515.41. Among the major gainers were Sands China Ltd (1.05 percent) and Li & Fung Ltd (3.91 percent).

South Korea’s KOSPI Composite Index rose 0.13 percent or 2.57 points to 1957.72. Shares of Samsung Electronics Co Ltd fell 0.37 percent and those of Hyundai Motor Co declined 0.22 percent.

India's BSE Sensex gained 0.14 percent or 26.93 points to 18637.70. Among the major gainers were Jain Irrigation (1.96 percent), DLF Ltd (1.29 percent) and ING Vysya Bank (1.02 percent).

China's gross domestic product growth slowed to the lowest rate in three years to 7.4 percent in the third quarter compared to the same period last year due to the soft global demand and reduced real estate investment in the country, the official data released Thursday show.

Despite the slowdown, the numbers from China's National Bureau of Statistics could be far from the hard landing of the economy that many investors have feared. Investors expect that with Chinese authorities still loosening monetary policy, the current data may represent the trough of a cycle.

Market confidence went up after the U.S. Census Bureau’s housing starts data Wednesday showed an upswing in the residential market. The data, measuring the change in the annualized number of residential buildings that began construction each month, rose to 872,000 in September, up from 758,000 in August.

Building permits also rose in September to 894,000, up from 801,000 in August. Market players were encouraged to note that the U.S. was witnessing a recovery in residential construction activity.