Nikkei steady, optimism remains despite ugly earnings
A man looks at an electronic board displaying a fall in major market indices around the world outside a brokerage in Tokyo December 9, 2011. Reuters

Asian stock markets gained Thursday, following a rebound on Wall Street overnight on easing eurozone worries and hopes for a better-than-expected US earnings season after solid start from Alcoa.

Investors concerns over eurozone debt crisis slightly eased as Spanish bond yields to 5.87 percent after a board member of the European Central Bank indicated it may buy the nation's debt.

A semblance of calm has returned to markets helped in part by comments from ECB council member Coeure that the ECB may restart its Securities Market Purchases programme to support Spanish bonds while Spanish Prime Minister Rajoy denied any need for a Greek style bailout, a note from Credit Agricole said.

Meanwhile, better-than-expected first quarter earnings from Alcoa lifted optimism about earnings season. The largest US aluminium producer was the first company to report earnings and it gives the first real indication of how major US companies performed at the start of 2012.

Japanese stocks advanced Thursday, with Nikkei snapping a seven-session losing streak, after Alcoa kicked off the US earnings season on a high note. Benchmark Nikkei gained 0.70 percent or 66.05 points to 9,524.79.

Among the stocks, Panasonic Corp. gained 2.13 percent and Sharp Corp. rose 2.73 percent, while Mazda Motor and Pioneer Corp. gained 1.53 percent.

Fanuc Ltd. advanced 2.67 percent after it was upgraded to overweight rating at Citigroup.

Chinese shares advanced, led by gains from financial and Property sector shares. Hong Kong's Hang Seng advanced 0.93 percent or 186.65 points to 20,327.32 and Chinese Shanghai surged 1.82 percent or 41.94 points to 2,350.86.

In Hong Kong, Bank of China gained 1.81 percent and Guangzhou R&F Properties advanced 2.01 percent, while China Resources Land Ltd. surged 3.04 percent.

Meanwhile, South Korean shares ended lower with benchmark Seoul Composite declining 0.39 percent or 7.78 points to 1,986.63. Samsung Electronics declined 2.9 percent and Hyundai Motor declined 0.96 percent while LG Electronics plunged 2.94 percent.