asian markets

Most Asian markets traded strong in the morning reflecting the upbeat mood of the US equities, after some better-than-expected economic indicators underscored speculations that the world's top economy is well on path to recovery.

Japan's Nikkei average index rose 0.8 percent or 95.02 points to 12476.2 while Australia's S&P/ASX 200 gained 1.1 percent or 55 points to 5087.2. South Korea's KOSPI eased 0.6 percent or 12.04 points to 1990.1.

In China, the Shanghai Composite Index was up 0.1 percent or 2.80 points to 2273.1. Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 0.3 percent or 68.68 points to 22687.9.

The stage was set for a strong performance across the region after the US stocks closed higher earlier, with the S&P 500 challenging all-time highs and Dow Jones Industrial Average rising to another record level.

"It seems almost inevitable now that the S&P will print a fresh all-time high in the coming sessions and the reaction to that in the market will be the key," said Jason Hughes, head of premium client management at IG Markets in Singapore.

"Many analysts feel a reasonable pull back is due before equities make a more significant push higher later in the year, so that could be the signal for the start of a correction".

The upbeat sentiments set in after official data showed that fewer Americans sought jobless benefits in the previous week, suggesting healthy signs on the US labour market. This, along with some positive corporate news, had boosted European stocks to a more-than-four-year high.

In Japan, sentiments were further boosted after the parliament approved government-nominated Haruhiko Kuroda as the Bank of Japan governor. The upper house cleared the nomination early in the day, following the lower house approval earlier this week.

Kuroda's arrival has boosted hopes that the government will deliver on its promises to take more economy-boosting measures. The yen remained weak against the dollar, trading at over the 96 mark. Meanwhile the Japanese government has upgraded its domestic economy assessment for the third consecutive month in March, suggesting that conditions were improving.

Major Movers

Exporters remained upbeat in Tokyo. Electronic major Sony Corp was up 6.8 percent while Nikon Corp added 2.2 percent. Automobile majors Toyota and Honda were up 1.2 and 1.9 percent after a Nikkei report said that the firms could post a strong performance this year.

Consumer stocks traded higher in Hong Kong. Want Want China Holdings was up 2.8 percent while Espirit Holdings added 1.9 percent. Property stocks remained weak on persisting government control fears. Wharf Holdings fell 2.7 percent while Sino Land was down 1.9 percent.

In South Korea, Samsung Electronics fell 2.3 percent after the company unveiled its latest smartphone, the Galaxy S4 in New York.