Asia Follows N. American Stocks Higher

Most Asian shares gained on Thursday after Wall Street closed at record levels following the latest minutes from the Federal Reserve.
Meanwhile, the dollar remained on the back foot.

The Nikkei 225 index gained 73.45 points, or 0.4%, to 20,954.72, after touching a fresh 21-year peak earlier in the session. Softbank Group contributed to broader gains on the index, with the company's stock surging 3.6%

The Hang Seng Index recovered 69.46 points, or 0.2%, to 28,459.03

In Korea, SK Hynix closed down 0.7% and LG Display fell 5.1%.

Down Under, the S&P/ASX 200 rose even though major mining stocks fell. Miners lost ground after iron ore prices sank overnight: Fortescue Metals tumbled 1.8% and Rio Tinto closed 1.4% lower.

Against the yen, the U.S. dollar edged down to fetch 112.28 yen.

Meanwhile, bank stocks were in focus during Asian trade after the International Monetary Fund on Wednesday identified several banks that could "struggle" with profitability in the years ahead, the Wall Street Journal said. Those names included Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group, Mizuho Financial Group, Standard Chartered and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group.

Japanese financials highlighted by the IMF traded slightly lower on the day: SMFG and Mizuho reversed early gains to close down 0.4% and 0.2% respectively. MUFJ was off 1% by the end of the session. Meanwhile, Hong Kong-listed shares of Standard Chartered declined 0.5% on the day.

Other market movers included shares of Japan's Toshiba, which soared 3.8%, outperforming other tech sector stocks. The Tokyo Stock Exchange had cancelled its "security on alert" designation on the company's stock.

Shares of Kobe Steel closed up 0.5% following huge sell offs in the previous two sessions after the company admitted to falsifying data to meet customer requirements. The company's president acknowledged that there could be more cases of data fabrication after the steelmaker revealed 70 cases of data fabrication at one of its units on Wednesday, Reuters reported.

Over in South Korea, Lotte Group said other firms had indicated interest in buying its remaining stores in China. It intended to complete the sale by year-end, the wire service added. Lotte's China business has struggled in recent years, with the breakdown in ties between Beijing and Seoul over the deployment of an anti-missile system not helping matters.

Meanwhile, trade in shares of China's Great Wall Motor was halted in Hong Kong after media reports said the company was in talks with BMW over a joint venture in China. Shares of the Chinese automaker had jumped 20% in the previous session on the news.

In other markets

In Shanghai, the CSI 300 advanced 10.26 points, or 0.3%, to 3,912.95

In Korea, the Kospi index gained 16.6 points, or 0.7%, to 2,474.76

In Taiwan, the Taiex Index leaped 70.25 points, or 0.7%, to 10,711.44

In Singapore, the Straits Times Index triumphed 22.81 points, or 0.7%, to 3,303.09

In New Zealand, the NZX 50 added 7.14 points, or 0.1%, to 8,068.12

In Australia, the ASX 200 moved forward 22.32 points, or 0.4%, to 5,794.47