By Chris Oliver, MarketWatch
HONG KONG (MarketWatch) -- Asian stocks shifted back into record-setting mode Wednesday, with Australia's benchmark S&P/ASX 200 powering to an all-time high after shares of Rio Tinto surged to a record amid talk of a potential takeover and with Japanese issues pivoting off an early bout of weakness as investors snapped up export-related shares.
Benchmarks in New Zealand, China and South Korea also ended at records.
In Sydney, Australia's S&P/ASX 200 added 36.6 points, closing up 0.6% at 6341.0 after hitting a record intraday high of 6,382.7.
Shares of Rio Tinto /zigman2/quotes/200083756/delayed AU:RIO +2.04% jumped 6.5% to $95.50 ($79.08) amid speculation the world's No. 3 miner had rejected a A$110-a-share takeover offer from larger rival BHP Billiton /zigman2/quotes/208108397/composite BHP +0.41% /zigman2/quotes/201448516/delayed AU:BHP +1.55% .
/zigman2/quotes/201448516/delayed BHP 37.92, +0.58, +1.55%
A number of analyst reports recently had suggested that BHP Billiton could make a bid for the company. BHP Billiton's shares climbed 2.4%.
In Tokyo, the 225-issue Nikkei Average /zigman2/quotes/210597971/delayed JP:NIK +1.70% closed up 0.5% at 17,748.12, while the more inclusive Topix index climbed 0.7% to 1,745.01.
Among exporters, shares of Sony Corp. /zigman2/quotes/208567357/composite SNE +2.77% /zigman2/quotes/201361720/delayed JP:6758 +4.47% gained 1.5% and Canon Inc. /zigman2/quotes/210242912/composite CAJ +0.48% /zigman2/quotes/207639533/delayed JP:7751 +2.58% added 1.3%.
Shares of Olympus Corp. /zigman2/quotes/200860615/delayed JP:7733 +0.41% climbed 4.1%. The camera and precision-equipment maker lifted its net profit forecast by 4.6% to 50 billion yen for the current fiscal year.
The leading Japanese automaker, which recently surpassed General Motors Corp. /zigman2/quotes/205226835/composite GM -0.27% as the world's biggest auto maker by sales, said net profit jumped 20% in the fiscal year ended March and forecast slightly higher earnings for the current fiscal year.
Sustaining a bigger loss, Softbank Corp. /zigman2/quotes/207303954/delayed JP:9984 -0.74% fell 3.2% to 2,615 yen after UBS Securities recommended that investors sell the company's shares on a valuation basis. On Tuesday, the Tokyo-based telecom and Internet company posted group net profit in the March-ended quarter of 6.88 billion yen ($57.3 million), down 83% from a year earlier.
Among other decliners, Sapporo Holdings Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/200413497/delayed JP:2501 +4.22% fell 2.5% after reporting Tuesday a group operating loss of 4.7 billion yen for the three months ended March 31.
Shares of NTT DoCoMo /zigman2/quotes/202061250/delayed JP:9437 +3.39% fell 0.9%, while Toshiba Corp. /zigman2/quotes/203922036/delayed TOSBF -1.12% /zigman2/quotes/205628942/delayed JP:6502 +0.60% eased 0.7%.
In Tokyo currency trading, the U.S. dollar was quoted at 120.05 yen, compared to 119.98 yen late Tuesday in New York.