Investing.com - Asian stock markets were broadly higher during late Asian trade on Thursday, with Japan’s Nikkei re-approaching a 53-month high hit earlier in the week after Tokyo appointed Asian Development Bank chief Haruhiko Kuroda as the next governor of the Bank of Japan.
Sentiment got a further boost after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke reiterated the central bank’s commitment to easy monetary policy and amid indications the U.S. economic recovery is gathering momentum.
During late Asian trade, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index jumped 1.7%, Australia’s ASX/200 Index ended up 1.35%, while Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index rallied 2.7%.
In Tokyo, the Nikkei was up for the first time in three days after Japan’s government formally nominated Haruhiko Kuroda as the new Governor of the Bank of Japan.
Kuroda is seen as a supporter of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's bolder monetary easing policies, which weakens the yen.
The U.S. dollar rose to 92.66 against the yen, retreating further away from a one-month low of 90.86 hit earlier in the week. A weaker yen increases the value of overseas income at Japanese companies when repatriated, boosting the outlook for export earnings.
Automakers Mazda and Honda both ended up 3.7%, while Sony and Fanuc climbed 3.5% and 3.2% respectively.
Japanese megabanks were also higher, with stocks of the nation’s largest lender Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group rising 1.6%, while Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group and Mizuho Financial Group advanced 3.6% and 2.5% respectively.
Heavy machinery maker Komatsu saw shares jump 3.7% after the Nikkei Newspaper reported the firm’s operating profit will exceed expectations.
Meanwhile, in Hong Kong, the Hang Seng rallied amid indications the global economy was improving and as sentiment remained upbeat amid speculation policymakers in Beijing will take steps to bolster equities.
The China banking sector were among the biggest gainers on the index, with China Construction Bank shares rising 3.1%, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China adding 2.4% and Bank of China Hong Kong climbing 3.5%.
Index heavyweight HSBC Holdings saw shares rise 2.1% as concerns over a political deadlock in Italy eased after an auction of Italian government bonds met with strong investor demand.
Shares of HSBC command a 15% weighting on the Hong Kong benchmark, making it the single largest constituent on the index.
Shares which are sensitive to the global growth outlook were stronger, with China Cosco Holdings up 2.75% and China Shipping Container Lines rising 2.2%.
Elsewhere, in Australia, the benchmark ASX/200 Index rose to a fresh four-and-a-half-year high, as earnings continued to boost sentiment.
Electronics retailer Harvey Norman saw shares surge 9.2% after reporting better-than-expected first-half net profit and saying the outlook for sales was positive.
Supermarket operator Woolworths rose 2.7% after the firm reported a 4% increase in first-half profits.
Looking ahead, European stock market futures pointed to a steady open. The EURO STOXX 50 futures pointed to a loss of 0.1%, France’s CAC 40 futures dipped 0.1%, London’s FTSE 100 futures eased down 0.1%, while Germany's DAX futures pointed to a flat open.
The euro zone was to release data on consumer inflation later in the day, while Germany was to publish data on consumer prices and employment change. The U.S. was to release revised data on fourth quarter growth and the weekly report on initial jobless claims.