Asian stocks mainly up
Asian markets were mostly higher Wednesday as investors took heart from a rare piece of good news from the United States' economy.
Tokyo, Hong Kong and Seoul all recorded healthy gains of between two and three percent on the back of an unexpected jump in US home sales for January.
And Shanghai added more than two percent on hopes for better liquidity among banks after news that lending had increased. There was also optimism the government will announce further stimulus moves to boost the economy.
However, Sydney was two percent lower on a day the world's biggest miner BHP Billiton announced a 56.5 percent fall in first half profit.
TOKYO: Up 2.73 percent. The Nikkei-225 gained 213.43 points to end at 8,038.94.
Traders said buying from foreign investors as well as domestic long-term investors such as pension funds supported gains in the market.
The market's robust rise was a natural rebound after a three-day losing streak, Hiroichi Nishi, a broker at Nikko Cordial Securities, told Dow Jones Newswires.
HONG KONG: Up 2.3 percent. The Hang Seng Index closed up 287.00 points at 13,063.89.
China-related stocks were responsible for driving the market up following comments by Premier Wen Jiabao that raised expectations China will take fresh market-boosting measures.
"Investors took Wen's comments as a positive and speculated on any possible measures," YK Chan, a fund manager at Phillip Asset Management, told Dow Jones Newswires.
SHANGHAI: Up 2.28 percent. The Shanghai Composite Index, which covers A and B shares, rose 46.94 points to a near four-month high at 2,107.75.
The state-run China Securities Journal reported Wednesday that January's new yuan loans are likely to exceed 1.2 trillion yuan (175 billion dollars), far above December's 771.8 billion yuan.
Financial companies led the rally. Changjiang Securities rose 4.7 percent to 11.80 yuan.
SEOUL: Up 2.8 percent. The KOSPI gained 32.17 points to 1,195.37.
Foreigners extended their buying spree into the sixth consecutive session, while local institutions were also net buyers.
"Foreigners' interest in local stocks remained selective. They are buying stocks of only a few sectors such as technology, which have upside momentum," said Jung Seung-Jae, an analyst at Mirae Asset Securities.
SINGAPORE: Down 0.26 percent. The STI was 4.53 points lower at 1,707.39.