Asia Stocks Rise; Hong Kong, Sydney Lead

Most Asian markets climbed Wednesday, as solid cues from Wall Street helped investors look past Europe-related worries, with Hong Kong stocks getting a lift from a clutch of better-than-expected earnings reports.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index  and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200  advanced 0.8% each, while China’s Shanghai Composite  climbed 0.3% to rebound after a sharp decline the previous day.

Reversing early losses, Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average climbed 0.1%, and South Korea’s Kospi  added 0.4%.

The broad advance came after U.S. stocks ended with gains on Tuesday following data that showed an improvement in home prices and manufacturing. The Dow Jones Industrial Average  reached a fresh record and the S&P 500  ended the session just 2 points away from its all-time closing high.

“With U.S. equity markets resuming their now familiar upward trajectory, Asian indices were able to make advances today, particularly with Eurozone officials seemingly now wanting to steer clear of calling the Cyprus bailout conditions a blueprint,” said Tim Waterer, a senior trader at CMC Markets.

In Hong Kong, shares of Bank of China  climbed 2% after posting a 12% increase in 2012 profits, while Agricultural Bank of China Ltd.  gained 1.1% after also reporting earnings. The stocks climbed even as the profit growth at both lenders was the slowest since they listed their shares.

Results also lifted a few other stocks. Jiangxi Copper Co.   rose 1.7% and Air China Ltd.   gained 2.2%, although Evergande Real Estate Group Ltd.   slumped 8.3% after a 19% drop in profits.

Japanese exporters and financials also advanced, meanwhile, following strong cues from the U.S. market.

Honda Motor Co.   gained 0.4%, Sony Corp.   added 1.8% and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc.  climbed 1.4%.

Sharp Corp.    lost 4.1%, after a deadline to wrap up a new funding deal with Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. passed without an agreement.

Shares of Hon Hai were flat in Taipei trading, where the Taiex  rose 0.3%.

South Korean exporters were mixed, with autos gaining but technology firms seeing some weakness.

Kia Motors Corp.    climbed 2.2% but Samsung Electronics Co.   fell 0.2%. The drop in Samsung shares came despite reports of a strong pre-orders for the Galaxy S4 smartphone in the first 10 days since it was unveiled.

In Australian trading, the mining sector led the way higher, with iron-ore extractor Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. jumping 4.2% after JP Morgan upgraded the firm to overweight from neutral.

Qantas Airways Ltd.   rose 2% after the firm received approval from the Australian government for a five-year tie-up with Emirates.

Marketwatch

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