Japan, Hong Kong Follow Wall St.’s Sharp Gains

Asian stocks closed higher on Thursday, taking cues from the rally on Wall Street, while the dollar slipped.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 perked 310.81 points Thursday, or 1.5%, to 21,464.98

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng leaped 599.83 points, or 2%, to 31,115.43

Most sectors were in positive territory despite the firmer yen, with technology and financials recording substantial gains. Sony rose 1.9% and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group was higher by 1.8% by the end of the day.

The manufacturing sector also closed higher, with Fanuc Manufacturing and Komatsu climbing 2.1% and 4% respectively.

The benchmark had come under pressure in the last session after the U.S. dollar fell to 15-month lows against the yen during Asian trading hours on Wednesday.

On the data front, Japan's December core machinery orders fell 11.9%— a larger decline than the 2.3% median fall projected.

In Hong Kong, markets rose sharply, with the finance, and commerce and industry sectors contributing the most to gains. Financials were firmly in positive territory, with China Construction Bank finishing the session up 4.7% and HSBC climbing 2%.

Over in Sydney, indices rose, with the energy, materials and gold sectors among the best-performing sectors. Major miners were higher on the day: Rio Tinto jumped 4.1% and BHP gained 3.6% by the end of the session.

Australian insurer Suncorp fell 2.4% by the end of the day after it reported that half-year net profit fell 15.8% to 452 million Australian dollars ($358 million U.S.), missing a Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S forecast of A$486 million. It cited higher-than-expected natural hazard claims as a factor affecting its earnings.

Meanwhile, Origin Energy jumped 6.9% after the company announced underlying earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization for the first half grew 51 percent to A$1.49 billion ($1.18 billion U.S.). It also raised full-year guidance to a range between A$1.78 billion ($1.41 billion U.S.) to A$1.85 billion ($1.47 billion U.S.), from a range of A$1.7 billion to A$1.8 billion.

Mainland China markets will close from Feb. 15 to Feb. 21 while Hong Kong markets will be shut from Feb. 16 to Feb. 19 for the Lunar New Year. Other regional markets, including South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore, will also finish the week early due to the holiday.

In other markets

In New Zealand, the NZX 50 recovered 4.53 points, or 0.1%, to 8,063.33

The ASX 200 regained 67.75 points, or 1.2%, to 5,908.99