Asian shares gained on better-than expected imports data from China after Wall Street closed at a record high.

Japan's Nikkei Stock Average rose 0.7 percent or 96.95 points to 13289.3, following an opening drop of 0.1 percent, with resource shares picking up on higher commodity prices.

Shanghai Composite index edged up 0.1 percent and the benchmark Hang Seng Index rose 0.3 percent. South Korea's KOSPI gained 0.8 percent or 14.38 points to 1935.1.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 was down 0.3 percent or 13.3 points to 4963.5.

Earlier, the Dow Jones industrial average closed at a record high on hopes of better corporate earnings, spurring optimism across the global economy.

The earthquake in Iran and a decline in the US dollar resulted in New York-traded crude futures edging higher, which in turn helped Tokyo-listed energy shares. Further, the increase in the prices of base metals has helped Japanese steel companies. Some of the Japanese blue-chip exporters also gained from the swing of the dollar across the 99-yen line.

The Japanese shares continue to receive support from the Bank of Japan's aggressive monetary easing stimulus that boosted hopes for better corporate earnings.

In China, data from the customs administration showed mixed trends for the country's March exports and imports with shipments abroad rising 10 percent year-on-year, which missed forecasts for the first time in four months. However, imports for the same period rose to an above-forecast 14.1 percent, leaving an unexpected trade deficit.

In addition, credit rating agency Fitch has cut the long-term debt rating of Yuan, China's local currency, citing risks from rapid credit growth from both banking and non-banking institutions. The latest developments indicate that the Chinese authorities are unlikely to take further monetary tightening measures in the economy.

In Hong Kong, much of the market gains were given by the property companies.

Seoul shares rallied as analysts expect the country's central bank to cut interest rates when it meets on Thursday, despite concerns about signs that North Korea was preparing for a missile launch.

"While it is hard to argue for a direct link between a policy rate decision and the Korean political tension, the uncertainty in the market and decline in business confidence should be on the radar screen for the central bank," said Raymond Yeung, analysts at ANZ Research.

"As policy interest rates are always considered a symbol of central bank's monetary stance everywhere in the world, a timely policy rate cut in April can help restore the market confidence more quickly and help improve investment confidence."

Major Movers

In Tokyo, Cosmo Oil surged 10 percent, Mitsubishi UFJ rose 4 percent and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group advanced 5.9 percent.

BHP Billiton advanced 2.6 percent and Rio Tinto Group, the world's second- largest mining company, added 3 percent in Sydney. Australian surfwear maker Billabong International slumped 26 percent.

In Hang Seng trading, shares of Hong Kong real estate majors China Overseas Land & Investment and Henderson Land Development climbed 1.9 percent 2.1 percent respectively, while casino operator Sands China gained 2.1 percent. 

KOSPI
South Korea's main stock market index, KOSPI, and the exchange rate between U.S. dollar and South Korean won, at a dealing room of a bank in Seoul