By Shri Navaratnam And Wei-Zhe Tan
South Korean shares ended at their highest level in more than three years on Tuesday as Hyundai Heavy Industries led gains in shipbuilders on a big new order.
Miners and energy-sector shares advanced in several markets as a weakened U.S. dollar boosted commodity prices.
The Korea Composite Stock Price Index, or Kospi, advanced 0.6% to 2009.05, its first finish above 2000 since November 2007. Japan's Nikkei Stock Average climbed 0.2% to 10316.77 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index added 0.5% to 23431.19.
Beijing's restraint in tightening policy over the weekend continued to support commodity prices. It raised banks' reserve-requirement ratio by half a percentage point Friday but refrained from an interest-rate increase despite a sharp rise in monthly inflation.
Commodity-related stocks were among Asian's best performers on Tuesday, with Newcrest Mining /zigman2/quotes/203840223/delayed AU:NCM +1.45% rising 1.7% and Woodside Petroleum /zigman2/quotes/203437212/delayed AU:WPL -0.15% gaining 1.4% in Sydney, and Inpex /zigman2/quotes/206689846/delayed JP:1605 -0.23% adding 2.6% in Tokyo.
Shipbuilders jumped in Seoul after Hyundai Heavy Industries said it received a $1.45 billion order from German liner Hapag-Lloyd AG to build four container ships.
Hyundai Heavy surged 8.9% and Samsung Heavy Industries climbed 5.7%.
Woori Finance Holdings /zigman2/quotes/203604265/composite WF -0.95% fell 4.6% on worries that the government's efforts to sell its 57% stake in the firm may falter after South Korean groups that had shown interest said Monday that they were dropping out.
Stock gains in Tokyo were constrained as the yen's overnight strength against the U.S. dollar dragged down some exporters. Canon /zigman2/quotes/210242912/composite CAJ -1.32% fell 0.5% and Sony /zigman2/quotes/208567357/composite SNE -1.20% fell 0.6%.
Mitsubishi Motors /zigman2/quotes/202404490/delayed JP:7211 -0.25% jumped 8.5% and Nissan Motor /zigman2/quotes/208298710/delayed JP:7201 -0.06% closed up 0.3% after a Nikkei business daily report that the auto makers had agreed to begin joint development of mini-vehicles. After the market close, the two companies said they are considering a 50-50 joint venture and also plan to expand their existing pact. The latest deal will enable both companies to offer more models without spending on developing and production, while they will be able to increase production by supplying vehicles to their partners.
In Hong Kong, China Coal Energy /zigman2/quotes/201486584/delayed HK:1898 -0.37% rose 2.9% after the coal producer said Monday its November output rose 40% from a year earlier.
Banks rose after a China Securities Journal report cited unnamed "authoritative sources" as saying China's new yuan loan quota for 2011 will be the same as this year's. Bank of China /zigman2/quotes/204682472/delayed HK:3988 -0.93% advanced 1.4%, and Industrial & Commercial Bank of China /zigman2/quotes/201401473/delayed HK:1398 -0.54% ended 0.9% higher.