Asian markets gained for a third day following strong trade data from China, which showed higher exports and imports that topped economists' estimates.

Japan's Nikkei average rose 1.4% or 191.41 points to 14,371.65. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 gained 39.07 points or 0.8% to 5,182.80, while Korea's KOSPI index added 0.2% or 3.05 points to 1,957.4.

In China, the Shanghai composite index advanced 0.3% or 6.9 points to 2,242.4, and Hong Kong's Hang Seng index rose 0.6% or 135.89 points to 23,183.

The world's second-biggest economy reported a trade surplus of $18.6bn for April after a 14.7% increase in exports and 16.8% rise in imports, from the year ago period.

Though the strong numbers from China could dispel concerns about a weakness in its economic recovery, some analysts doubted the accuracy of China's trade data as they suspect that exporters might have overstated their orders to bring more funds into the country, avoiding capital restrictions.

Earlier this week China's currency regulator announced it would step up its policing of cross-border trade to prevent speculative funds from entering the economy.

Major Movers

In Shanghai, coal miner China Shenhua Energy Co rose 1% and China Coal Energy Co gained 0.9%.

In Hong Kong, PetroChina gained 1.7% and Cnooc Ltd rose 1.2%. Banking giant HSBC Holdings rose 1.6% after it reported an increase in first-quarter profit.

In Sydney, Rio Tinto gained 1.8%.

In Tokyo, Komatsu, the second largest construction and mining equipment maker, rose 3.3%. Softbank Corp gained 3.7% after investee Alibaba Group Holding reported that profit had tripled in the fourth quarter of 2012.

Toshiba Corp, the second largest maker of flash-memory, was down 3.9 percent in Tokyo after Japan's Nikkei newspaper reported that the company would miss its forecast.