Asian stocks rose broadly on Wednesday, with optimism about the easing of coronavirus-related restrictions and expectations about robust earnings by U.S. tech firms helping underpin sentiment ahead of the Federal Reserve's monetary policy announcement due later in the day.
The Japanese market was closed for the Showa Day holiday. Chinese shares rose as investors cheered solid earnings updates from the country's biggest listed banks. The benchmark Shanghai Composite index rose by 12.42 points, or 0.44 percent, to 2,822.44 while Hong Kong's Hang Seng index ended up 0.28 percent at 24,643.59.
Australian markets advanced as several countries around the world announced a phased reopening of businesses. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 rallied 80.30 points, or 1.51 percent, to 5,393.40 while the broader All Ordinaries index ended up 82.60 points, or 1.53 percent, at 5,463.80.
The big four banks jumped 4-6 percent. Energy companies such as Origin Energy, Oil Search, Woodside Petroleum and Santos surged 5-7 percent as oil prices rebounded in Asian trade on hopes that a glut in global crude markets may be easing.
Crown Resorts soared almost 11 percent after U.S. private equity firm Blackstone bought a stake in the casino operator. Gold miners Newcrest and Northern Star Resources dropped 1-2 percent after safe-haven gold prices extended losses for a third straight session overnight.
Overall consumer prices in Australia rose 0.3 percent sequentially in the first quarter of 2020, a government report showed. That exceeded expectations for an increase of 0.2 percent and was down from 0.7 percent in the three months prior. On a yearly basis, inflation climbed 2.2 percent - again topping forecasts for 2.0 percent and up from 1.8 percent in Q4.
Seoul stocks rose for a third straight session after data showed the country's March factory output jumped by the most in 11 years amid virus-related production disruptions in China. The benchmark Kospi ended up 13.47 points, or 0.70 percent, at 1,947.56.
Industrial output in South Korea was up a seasonally adjusted 4.6 percent month-on-month in March, Statistics Korea said - following the 3.8 percent decline in February. On a yearly basis, industrial output jumped 7.1 percent after spiking 11.3 percent in the previous month.
New Zealand shares fluctuated before finishing sharply lower after the government eased Covid-19 rules, allowing construction sites, restaurants and some other businesses to reopen following a decline in new virus cases. The benchmark NZX-50 index dropped 93.37 points, or 0.87 percent, to 10,666.19.
New Zealand had a merchandise trade surplus of NZ$672 million in March, Statistics New Zealand said today - up from NZ$594 million in February. Exports rose an annual 3.8 percent.
Singapore's Straits Times index was up 0.2 percent as the number of Covid-19 cases in the country crossed the 15,000 mark. India's Sensex was rallying 1.3 percent amid expectations the government will finalize a second stimulus package this week for industry, the poor and farmers.
U.S. stocks ended lower overnight as few U.S. states allowed some businesses to reopen following lockdowns to curb the coronavirus pandemic and the Trump administration unveiled a plan to ramp up testing.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 0.1 percent and the S&P 500 shed half a percent, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite declined 1.4 percent.