Asian markets trade higher on 2 August
A woman walks past an electronic board displaying Japan's Nikkei average (top C) and various countries' stock price indices outside a brokerage in Tokyo, in July, 2013.

Asian markets were trading higher on Friday, extending the previous day's strong gains, after market sentiments were boosted by upbeat US and European economic data and a pledge to ease monetary policy from global central banks.

The Japanese Nikkei finished 3.29%, or 460.39 points, higher at 14,466.16, while Australia's S&P/ASX index finished 0.94% (47.60 points) higher at 5,109.10

The Shanghai Composite index was trading 0.04% higher or 0.82 points to 2,029.89

Hong Kong's Hang Seng was trading 0.41% higher or 91.56 points to 22,180.35.

South Korea's Kospi finished 0.14% higher or 2.64 points to 1,923.38 points.

In the US, data from a survey showed that manufacturing in July grew at its fastest pace in two years. This suggests that growth in the world's top economy would pick up speed in the second half of 2013.

Earlier, data from the eurozone showed that manufacturing activity grew for the first time in two years during July, hinting that the region might come out of recession this quarter.

In the UK, manufacturing output during July soared to its highest level since February 2011, building on months of gathering momentum as the country's economy heals.

Meanwhile the Bank of England (BoE) and the European Central Bank (ECB) both left interest rates at a record low of 0.5%, a day after the Federal Reserve said that the US economy still needed its support.

Wall Street Indices Log Record Highs

On Wall Street, indices closed at record highs on Thursday, buoyed by positive factory activity data.

The Dow finished 128.48 points higher or 0.83% at 15,628.02. The S&P 500 ended 21.14 higher, or 1.25% at 1,706.87. The Nasdaq closed 49.37 points higher or 1.36% at 3,675.74.

On Wednesday, the US Federal Reserve slightly downgraded its view of the US economic recovery, describing the pace of growth as "modest" - a change from the "moderate" pace seen in June.

Economists still expect the Fed to reduce its bond-buys after mid-September's FOMC meeting.

Company Stock Movements

In Sydney, banking stocks rebounded from Thursday's losses after a report on possible new bank taxes was revised.

Macquarie rose 3%, while Australia and New Zealand Banking Group shot up 1.6% and Westpac Banking added 1.4%.

In Tokyo, Suzuki Motor rallied 6% after it reported a 15% increase in its first-quarter net profit.

The world's leading automaker, Toyota added 2%, having raised its 2013 group-wide global production forecast to 10.12 million vehicles from 9.94 million. The company, whose US sales jumped more than 16% in July, will put out its second quarter earnings update today.

Rival Mitsubishi gained 2% after posting a 15% rise in net profit.

Sharp jumped 3.7% after the company reported a lower first-quarter loss and better sales of its smartphones and tablets. Rival Sony jumped 2% after the electronics maker reported better-than-expected earnings on Thursday

In Hong Kong, billionaire businessman Li Ka-Shing's Hutchison Whampoa shot up 3.1% after it reported better-than-expected results

In Shanghai, China Merchants Property jumped 5.3%. Rival real estate players Gemdale and Poly Real Estate added 4% each after market participants dismissed recent measures by the government to lower property prices.

The world's top bank by tier 1 capital, ICBC, and China Construction Bank added 0.7% each.

In Seoul, Samsung Engineering surged over 7% after its CEO was sacked on Thursday following an accident at one of the firm's sites last week that killed three workers.

Automaker Hyundai Motor added 1.5% after it reported a 6.4% year-on-year increase in US sales last month - the company's best-ever sales report for July.

Index heavyweight Samsung Electronics shot up 1% after the US International Trade Commission announced on Thursday that it would delay a decision on whether some Samsung mobile phones and tables infringed on Apple patents.