By Colin Ng and John Phillips in Singapore and V. Phani Kumar in Hong Kong
Asian markets climbed Thursday as an overnight surge on Wall Street and in commodity prices lifted metal and mining stocks, while exporters extended gains to send Japanese shares to their highest finish in more than five months.
The Nikkei Stock Average rose 1.8% to 10168.52, a level last reached on June 21. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 climbed 2% to 4676.24, its best percentage gain since September, and South Korea's Kospi rose 1.1% to 1950.26. Hong Kong's Hang Sang Index climbed 0.9% to 23448.78, and China's Shanghai Composite advanced 0.7% to 2843.61.
Strong economic data Wednesday, including an improved report on U.S. private-sector jobs from payroll company ADA and solid manufacturing activity in China, buoyed sentiment.
"The recovery in manufacturing activities [world-wide] and improvement in U.S. job conditions are spurring expectations for expansion in the global economy," said Cosmo Securities equity strategist Toshikazu Horiuchi .
Mining and other resource stocks rose across the region. BHP Billiton /zigman2/quotes/208108397/composite BHP -0.25% gained 2.6% and Rio Tinto /zigman2/quotes/202627887/composite RIO -0.15% climbed 2.3% in Sydney, Inpex /zigman2/quotes/206689846/delayed JP:1605 +2.88% added 1.2% in Tokyo, Cnooc /zigman2/quotes/204964401/composite CEO +1.53% climbed 3.2% in Hong Kong, while PetroChina /zigman2/quotes/205108732/composite PTR +0.38% rose 1.2% and Jiangxi Copper /zigman2/quotes/201334192/delayed CN:600362 +1.29% advanced 2.1% in Shanghai. In Mumbai, Cairn India gained 2.2%.
Japanese shares were lifted by the stock-market rallies in the U.S. and Europe and Wednesday's weaker yen, which helped exporters. Canon /zigman2/quotes/210242912/composite CAJ -0.63% gained 2.5%. Nissan Motor /zigman2/quotes/208298710/delayed JP:7201 -0.04% advanced 3.1% after news Wednesday of strong U.S. sales.
Skymark Airlines jumped 4% following announcement of plans to hire some 470 former Japan Airlines employees.
In Sydney, the market gained even as Australian retail sales in October fell 1.1% on a seasonally adjusted basis, against expectations of a 0.4% rise.
Leighton Holdings rose 3.4% after its Thiess subsidiary won a 20-year, 5.5 billion Australian dollar (US$5.33 billion) contract to mine coal at NTPC's Pakri Barwadhi field. The Indian field is expected to produce 15 million metric tons a year of coal, Leighton said.
In Hong Kong, shares of Chinese coal companies tumbled and independent power producers jumped after Xinhua reported that an official at the National Development and Reform Commission said China's coal miners must keep prices in 2011 unchanged from this year's contracts.
Yanzhou Coal Mining fell 3.2%, China Coal Energy /zigman2/quotes/201486584/delayed HK:1898 0.00% lost 4.4%, and China Shenhua Energy /zigman2/quotes/206065610/delayed HK:1088 +0.71% slid 5.1%. Among independent power producers, which benefit from stable coal prices, Huadian Power International /zigman2/quotes/206029871/delayed HK:1071 0.00% climbed 2.4% while Huaneng Power International /zigman2/quotes/202495959/composite HNP -1.17% and Datang International Power /zigman2/quotes/209691840/delayed HK:991 +1.47% both jumped 6.8%.
Huaneng Power's gains came after the company announced an agreement to acquire a 50% stake in Shanghai Time Shipping from its sister company Huaneng Energy & Communications Holding for 1.06 billion yuan ($159 million), and a 30% stake in Hainan Nuclear Power from parent company China Huaneng Group for 174 million yuan.
In Seoul, Samsung Electronics jumped 4.8% after it confirmed that it will spend 2.6 trillion won ($2.3 billion) to build a plant in China to make liquid-crystal displays.
Write to Colin Ng at email@example.com