HONG KONG - Asian stocks closed mostly up Wednesday with Chinese stocks surging amid speculation Beijing will try to boost share prices following a plunge since last year.
The Chinese bourse closed 5.24 percent higher amid market talk that the authorities would step in to shore up share prices with the key Shanghai index languishing below the psychologically significant 3,000 level.
The index has tumbled nearly 20 percent since the start of the month, continuing a deep plunge that began last year.
Elsewhere in Asia, Japanese shares ended 0.73 percent higher despite a fall on Wall Street on Tuesday. Concern about inflation and the struggling American housing market had weighed on US share prices.
Hong Kong and South Korea closed up more than one percent, while Australia, Taiwan and Singapore also ended in the black. But India tumbled nearly two percent.
Among smaller markets, Thailand and Malaysia both slid over one percent, partly on concerns about domestic political instability.
Investors were waiting for quarterly results from US investment bank Morgan Stanley due Wednesday for clues about the global credit squeeze, triggered after a mortgage default crisis in the US.
Worries about inflation amid surging oil and food prices, and slowing economic growth, also continued to play on the minds of investors.
TOKYO: Japanese share prices closed up 0.73 percent as a weaker yen boosted exporters, helping the market to overcome a negative lead from Wall Street, dealers said.
The benchmark Nikkei-225 index climbed 104.45 points to end at 14,452.82. The broader Topix index of all first-section shares advanced 7.66 points or 0.55 percent to 1,409.64.
"Goldman (Sach's) better-than-expected earnings raised hopes that Morgan Stanley's earnings may not be bad either," JPMorgan strategist Masaru Ohnishi told Dow Jones Newswires.
Olympus rose 3.3 percent to 3,750 yen. Mitsubishi Estate added 2.8 percent to 2,740 yen. Hitachi shares rose 1.8 percent to 796 yen.
NEC Electronics soared 16 percent to 2,970 yen after Goldman Sachs hiked its rating on the shares to "buy" from "neutral." Battery maker GS Yuasa leapt 13 percent to 595 yen.
HONG KONG: Hong Kong share prices closed up 1.16 percent, dealers said.
The Hang Seng Index closed up 267.81 points at 23,325.80. Turnover remained light at 71.21 billion Hong Kong dollars (9.13 billion US).
Sinopec rose 7.8 percent to 8.32 dollars, while PetroChina gained 3.5 percent to 10.66 dollars.
The domestic market is likely to recover to the 24,000-point level if the buying spree in China continues, Francis Lun, general manager at Fulbright Securities, told Dow Jones Newswires.
"Investors expect Beijing to announce measures soon to help support buying interest in China's equity market," Lun said.
Sun Hung Kai Properties rose 3.6 percent to 118.4 dollars.
"But the Hang Seng Index will rise further to 26,000 points before the Beijing Olympics in August, if the Shanghai Composite Index recovers to 4,000 points," said Peter Lai, a DBS Securities director.
SYDNEY: Australian share prices closed up 0.38 percent, dealers said.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index closed up 20.5 points at 5,443.2, while the broader All Ordinaries gained 24.4 points to 5,550.3.
Market turnover was 1.99 billion shares, worth 7.03 billion dollars (6.61 billion US).
"The resource sector is really where the strength is," MF Global senior trader Anthony Anderson said.
"The real driver that has accounted almost entirely for all the up movement on the index is Fortescue, Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton.
"Investors are really seeing the resource sector as one place to put their money as opposed to the banks, for a change."
BHP Billiton rose 0.9 percent to 45.32 dollars and Rio Tinto was up 2.3 percent at 140.15. Woodside was up 1.55 to 63.75. In gold mining Newcrest rose 32 cents to 28.32.
National Australia Bank fell 38 cents to 27.59. News Corp. fell 31 cents to 18.87 and Fairfax lost 10 cents to 2.98. Telecoms giant Telstra was steady at 4.55.
SHANGHAI: Chinese shares surged to close 5.24 percent higher, dealers said.
The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index, which covers A and B shares, closed up 146.36 points at 2,941.12 on turnover of 69.0 billion yuan (10 billion dollars).
"The rebound is not surprising given the sharp losses in the past several weeks and the increased volume showed that the market may have bottomed out," Zhou Lin at Huatai Securities told Dow Jones Newswires.
The Shanghai A-share Index added 153.60 points, or 5.24 percent, at 3,085.44 on turnover of 68.7 billion yuan. The Shenzhen A-share Index was up 43.59 points or 5.19 percent at 883.09 on turnover of 33.6 billion yuan.
Oil majors and power firms were higher amid speculation that Beijing might relax price caps on their products.
Sinopec surged by the 10 percent daily limit to 13.01 yuan, while PetroChina rose 5.58 percent to 16.09 yuan.
Aluminum Corp. of China gained 10 percent to 14.31 yuan, while Jiangxi Copper was up 10 percent at 22.13. Industrial and Commercial Bank of China advanced 4.96 percent to 5.29 yuan.
TAIPEI: Taiwan share prices closed up 0.19 percent, dealers said.
The weighted index closed 15.79 points higher at 8,217.58 on turnover of 82.31 billion Taiwan dollars (2.72 billion US).
First Taisec Securities' Stanley Hsu said investors bargain hunted with a view that the index has bottomed.
"There's a limit to how much it can rise with lukewarm interest every day. When it reaches a stalemate at 8,300, investors may just sell their shares again on lack of progress," he said.
Formosa Chemicals and Fibre rose 1.90 percent at 75.70 Taiwan dollars, and Nan Ya Plastics rose 0.90 percent at 71.10.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. rose 0.46 percent to 65.50, while United Microelectronics Corp closed unchanged at 17.00.
SEOUL: South Korean shares closed 1.3 percent higher, dealers said.
The KOSPI ended up 23.42 points at 1,774.13 after trading between 1,742.68 and 1,775.11. The percentage gain was the largest in nearly three weeks.
"Impressive gains in Chinese shares boosted overall sentiment towards the close," said Park Seok-Hyun, an analyst at Eugene Investment and Securities.
Hyundai Heavy Industries rose 1.6 percent to 340,500 won. Hyundai Engineering and Construction was up 0.9 percent at 77,600 won. Korean Air Lines added 3.3 percent to 53,300 won.
Samsung Electronics advanced 2.3 percent to 704,000 won.
SINGAPORE: Singapore share prices closed up 0.39 percent, dealers said.
The blue-chip Straits Times Index rose 11.85 points to 3,040.09 on volume of 1.63 billion shares worth 1.63 billion Singapore dollars (1.20 billion US).
"Our short-term view is still that the market is rangebound between 2,800 to 3,200," said UOB-KayHian research head Nancy Wei.
DBS Group rose 12 cents to 19.54 dollars. CapitaLand gained 12 cents to 5.84. Singapore Airlines advanced four cents to 15.10.
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian share prices closed 1.2 percent lower, dealers said.
The Kuala Lumpur Composite Index dropped 15.17 points to 1,212.59.
"The announcement by the Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) today that it will put forward a vote of no confidence on Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi next week rattled investors," a dealer told Dow Jones Newswires.
Utility giant Telekom Malaysia lost 0.63 percent to 3.14 ringgit and Genting shed 4.5 percent to 5.30 ringgit.
BANGKOK: Thai shares closed 1.47 percent lower, dealers said.
The Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) composite index lost 11.43 points to close at 765.74, while the blue-chip SET 50 index fell 8.74 points to 546.04.
Bualuang Securities vice president Pongrat Ratanatavananda said foreign investors continued selling off big-cap shares -- especially in energy and banking -- for a second day.
"Foreign investors are concerned about the soaring inflation rate, which will affect the targetted growth," she said.
"Meanwhile, in the political situation it looks like there will be more conflict," Pongrat said.
PTT plunged 10.00 baht to close at 302.00. Bangkok Bank fell 3.00 to 116.00. Thai Airways International slipped 0.40 to 21.80.
JAKARTA: Indonesian shares closed 0.6 percent lower, dealers said.
The Jakarta Composite Index dropped 13.39 points to 2,364.58.
"Some investors preferred to cash in gains, preparing for the worse," a trader told Dow Jones Newswires.
Gas Negara ended down 2.8 percent at 13,900 rupiah and bellwether coal miner Bumi Resources fell 0.6 percent at 8,050 on profit taking.
MANILA: Philippine share prices closed down 0.3 percent, dealers said.
The composite index lost 9.06 points to 2,628.20. The all-share index shed 7.88 points to 1,658.48.
"Surging commodity prices coupled with a high unemployment rate means domestic demand would remain sluggish," Harry Liu of Summit Securities told Dow Jones Newswires.
Top-traded Philippine Long Distance Telephone added 15 pesos to 2,470 on bargain-hunting. Megaworld lost eight centavos to 1.48 pesos. San Miguel A and B shares were both unchanged at 41 and 42 pesos, respectively.
WELLINGTON: New Zealand share prices fell 0.38 percent, dealers said.
The NZX-50 gross index fell 12.94 points to 3,391.63.
Fletcher Building rose nine cents to 6.84 dollars.
"The rest of the market is just continuing to drift with buyer apathy and lack of positive direction from overseas," First NZ Capital broker Don Lewthwaite said.
Telecom dropped four cents to 3.80 dollars. Contact Energy rose six cents to 8.44 dollars.
MUMBAI: Indian shares closed 1.75 percent lower, dealers said.
The benchmark Mumbai 30-share Sensex index fell 274.59 points to 15,422.31.
"Global clues remain uncertain. Investors preferred to book profits ahead of Friday's inflation data," said a dealer at brokerage ULJK Securities.