Asian Markets
Asian Markets Trade Higher as Dow Hits Record High

Asian stocks climbed in the morning trade after the Dow Jones Industrial Average hit all- time high following a bullish service- sector data, which signalled further improvement for the US economy.

The Japanese and Australian indices reached fresh multi-year highs as the Nikkei average stock index gained 1.3 percent or 154.2 points to 11,837.9 while Australia's S&P/ASX 200 added 1 percent or 48.1 points to 5,123.5. South Korea's KOSPI was up 0.6 percent.

In China, the Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.3 percent while Hong Kong's Hang Seng index gained 0.9 percent or 211.6 points to 22,772.1.

Australian shares surged as the official figures showed that the economy grew 0.6 percent in the final three months of 2012.

In the US, markets continued to shrug off the budget deadlock even though the $85bn automatic budget cuts came into effect on 1 March.

Wall Street rallied in the previous session as the survey of purchasing managers by the Institute for Supply Management showed more optimism in February.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.9 percent to close at 14,253.8 while the Nasdaq composite gained 1.3 percent to 3,224.1. The S&P 500 index rose 1 percent to 1,539.7.

Oil prices rose some 30 cents a barrel following the announcement of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's death late in the previous night. Analysts expected short-term rise in oil prices due to the uncertainty in Venezuela till the new leadership comes to power.

Major Movers in Asia

In Australia, banks gained with the ANZ and Commonwealth Bank adding 52 cents and 88 cents respectively. National Australia Bank gained 64 cents to $31.23.

In Tokyo, Sharp rose 17 percent on the back of media reports that South Korea's Samsung Electronics would invest 10bn yen ($107m) in the Japanese firm. Pioneer climbed 7.9 percent while Toshiba rose 2.1 percent.

Samsung Electronics gained 1.2 percent in Seoul on reports of Sharp investment.