Asian stock markets mostly advanced Wednesday as sentiment was buoyed after Alcoa kicked off the U.S. fourth quarter earnings season on a positive note.

Japanese benchmark Nikkei average advanced 0.67 percent or 70.51 points to 10,578.57, Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 0.41 percent or 95.72 points to 23,206.91 and India’s BSE Sensex gained 0.07 percent while South Korea’s KOSPI Composite fell 0.31 percent and Chinese Shanghai Composite slipped 0.03 percent.

Investor sentiment turned positive overnight as Alcoa fourth quarter sales beat estimates and lifted optimism about earnings season. The largest U.S. aluminum producer was the first company to report earnings and it gives the first real indication of how the major U.S. companies performed in the fourth quarter of 2012.

Alcoa Inc. (AA) shares advanced 1.10 percent post-market trading Tuesday after the company said it swung to the fourth quarter net income of $242 million or $0.21 per share compared to a net loss of $191 million or $0.18 per share in the same period last year. Quarterly revenue declined 2 percent to $5.90 billion from $5.99 billion last year but topped analysts’ estimation of $5.60 billion.

“I am cautiously optimistic. We are at a juncture with the earnings season just kicking off in North America. People will want to assess the lay of the land, in particular any forward-looking comments that companies make,” Tim Schroeders, who helps manage $1 billion at Pengana Capital Ltd. in Melbourne, told Bloomberg.

Japanese shares pared the earlier losses and ended with gains as the yen slipped against the major counterparts. Exporter companies’ shares recovered after the dollar made modest gains against the yen. Mazda Motor Corp. gained 3.51 percent and TDK Corp. climbed 5.25 percent while Sumitomo Heavy Industries surged 4.94 percent

Property developers led the gains in Hong Kong. China Overseas Land & Investment Ltd. gained 1 percent and Wharf Holdings Ltd. advanced 1.86 percent while Ping An rose 0.66 percent.

In Seoul, LG Electronics Inc. plunged 3.19 percent and Hyundai Motor Co. fell 1.19 percent while Samsung Electronics Co Ltd. declined 1.16 percent.