By Colin Ng And John Phillips
Japanese exporters extended gains to send stocks to their highest finish in more than five months, while surging commodity prices lifted metal and mining shares around the region.
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.
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 -0.87% gained 2.5%. Nissan Motor /zigman2/quotes/208298710/delayed JP:7201 +0.18% advanced 3.1% after earlier news of strong U.S. sales. Skymark Airlines jumped 4% following announcement of plans to hire some 470 former Japan Airlines employees.
Strong economic data on Wednesday, including an improved report on U.S. private-sector jobs, and solid manufacturing activity in China buoyed sentiment.
Mining and other resource stocks rose across the region. BHP Billiton /zigman2/quotes/208108397/composite BHP -1.54% gained 2.6% and Rio Tinto /zigman2/quotes/202627887/composite RIO -0.28% climbed 2.3% in Sydney, Inpex /zigman2/quotes/206689846/delayed JP:1605 +0.42% added 1.2% in Tokyo, Cnooc /zigman2/quotes/204964401/composite CEO +0.43% climbed 3.2% in Hong Kong, while PetroChina /zigman2/quotes/205108732/composite PTR -1.26% 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%.
Australian shares gained even as 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 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.
Elsewhere, Hong Kong's Hang Sang Index climbed 0.9% to 23448.78, and China's Shanghai Composite advanced 0.7% to 2843.61.
In Hong Kong, 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 -0.85% and Datang International Power /zigman2/quotes/209691840/delayed HK:991 +1.47% both jumped 6.8%.