Asian markets rise on 1 August
Tokyo Stock Exchange employees working at the bourse.

Asian markets gained on Thursday after China put out better-than-expected factory activity data and the US Federal Reserve said it would continue with its $85bn a month bond-buying programme.

Sentiments were also boosted by data from the US, which showed the world's top economy grew faster-than-expected in the second quarter.

The Japanese Nikkei finished 2.47% higher or 337.45 points to 14,005.77.

Australia's S&P/ASX index finished 0.19% higher or 9.50 points to 5,061.50

The Shanghai Composite index was trading 1.21% higher or 25.04 points to 2,018.84

Hong Kong's Hang Seng was trading 0.62% higher or 134.73 points to 22,018.39.

South Korea's Kospi finished 0.35% higher or 6.71 points to 1,920.74 points.

In China, two separate surveys on China's manufacturing sector indicated mixed activity for the month of July, amid rising concerns about continued slowdown in the economy.

The government's Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) unexpectedly rose to 50.3 in July from 50.1 in June. Economists had expected a slowdown in activity to 49.9 for the month. Meanwhile, the HSBC PMI showed a contraction for the third straight month, declining to 47.7 in July from 48.2 in June.

In the US, a Fed statement on Wednesday refrained from giving hints as to when the planned reduction in its asset buys would take place.

The statement, released after a two-day meeting of the Fed's policy making committee, said that the US economy was expanding at a "modest" pace- a change from the "moderate" pace seen in June.

Earlier, government data showed that world's leading economy expanded 1.7% in the second quarter, beating expectations of a 1% expansion.

Wall Street Mixed

On Wall Street, indices ended mixed on Wednesday. The Dow finished 21.05 points lower at 15,499.54, while the S&P 500 ended 0.23 points lower at 1,685.72. The Nasdaq closed 9.90 points higher at at 3,626.37.

Social networking company Facebook briefly traded above its May 2012 IPO price of $38, but finished at $36.80. Its stock price had surged 7% on 30 July with traders exchanging 694,000 calls and 300,000 puts on Facebook that day.

Company Stock Movements

In Shanghai, China Oilfield Services shot up 5.6%. Haitong Securities gained 4.4%, while realty firm Gemdale added 3.4%.

In Hong Kong, logistics player Li and Fung added 2.9%. Media company Tencent Holdings rose 2.1%. Realty firm Hang Lung Properties moved up 2%.

In Sydney, multinational packaging firm Amcor shot up 2.4% after it said it plans to spin off its glass and beverage can packaging unit.

Toll road developer Transurban added 1.7% after announcing a 198% jump in full-year net profit

Oil and gas major Woodside Petroleum rose 1.7

Banking stocks were down, partly owing to news that the government plans to roll out a levy on banks to pay for deposit insurance.

National Australia Bank fell 2.2%. Commonwealth Bank of Australia dropped 2%, while Australia & New Zealand Banking Group shed 1.8%.

Perth-based retailer Wesfarmers inched up 0.4%.

In Tokyo, Tokyo Electric (Tepco) surged 5.6% after it swung to a net profit in the April to June quarter. A government bailout and electricity rate hikes in Japan benefited the company.

Tepco, the operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, confessed in July that radioactive groundwater from the power plant has leaked into the sea. The company's shares had finished 6.69% lower at 656 yen (£4.2, €4.9) on 23 July in Tokyo, a day after the firm acknowledged the leak.

Panasonic shot up 5.1% after it reported a 66% jump in operating profit for the April to June first quarer. The company said it benefited from a shift away from consumer electronics and toward products for businesses, such as automotive systems and housing fixtures.

Mizuho Financial Group gained 2% following a 35% increase in net profit while rival Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group gained 1.8% after it reported a 40% jump in quarterly profit.

Automaker Mazda Motor gained 1.5% after it swung back to profit in the April to June first quarter. The company sold 301,000 vehicles globally in the three-month period, up 1,000.

Rival Honda Motor dropped 3% after it reported a 7% drop in net profit in the three months to June. Higher sales in the US, the company's largest market, and the benefits of a weaker yen were offset by increased spending as the automaker looks to expand in a big way this year.

Toshiba shed 6% after it announced late Wednesday that its quarterly profit missed expectations, following lower sales of personal computers and televisions.

Sony shed 0.3% on a Nikkei newspaper report that its board might reject a proposal from US hedge fund Third Point to spin off its entertainment division.

Trading in shares of Sharp was halted after a local media report said the firm was going to raise funds via a public share offering.

In Seoul, trading services provider STX Corp soared 15% on news that creditors of its subsidiary STX Offshore & Shipbuilding have agreed to inject fresh liquidity to help resolve its cash crunch.

Bio-pharmaceutical firm Celltrion fell over 5% following a 15% surge on Wednesday, on market rumors that Britain's AstraZeneca may be buying the Korean firm.