Brokerage, Tokyo
Japanese shares led gains in Asia on 21 AprilReuters

Stock markets across Asia saw gains on 21 April following a positive overnight session on Wall Street.

Tokyo's benchmark Nikkei share average was up by 0.8% at 18,576.24 points at mid-day after a survey suggested that the Japanese manufacturing sector continued to expand in April.

The flash manufacturing purchasing managers' index, compiled by Nikkei and IHS Markit, rose to 52.8 from 52.4 in March. A reading above 50 indicates expansion in the sector.

"Driven by firmer external demand, the sector was underpinned by a stronger export performance in April, with new export orders rising at a rate amongst the best seen in the past three years," said Paul Smith, senior economist at IHS Markit.

Investors were also buoyed by a strong session on Wall Street and comments from US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin that tax reform plans could be unveiled soon.

The Dow Jones and Nasdaq share averages both closed 0.9% higher, while the S&P 500 index advanced 0.8%.

"Having pared back expectations around the issue to a minimum, some have even bought into the idea that perhaps US tax reform could be on the cards," IG market analyst Chris Weston said in a note.

"The cynics... just cannot see how tax reform works without healthcare reform."

Rest of Asia

Mainland China's Shanghai Composite index was up by 0.1% at 3,174.40 points, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng also rose 0.1% to 24,075.16.

In South Korea, the Kospi benchmark index advanced 0.8% to 2,165.67 points.

Investors are keeping a close eye on the first round of the French presidential election at the weekend, with all 11 presidential candidates making their final pitches in a television debate on 20 April.

Polls have suggested that centrist Emmanuel Macron and far-right candidate Marine Le Pen are leading the pack and are likely to progress to the second round of the elections in May.

Elsewhere, Australia's S&P/ASX 200 was up by 0.6% at 5,853.40 points.