Asia Uniformly Higher Off Wall St. Gains

Markets in Asia closed higher on Wednesday, as investor confidence firmed on the back of Wall Street's advance following strong earnings. The gains also came amid lingering concerns over trade-related developments.

The Nikkei 225 Index zoomed 310.61 points, or 1.4%, to close Wednesday at 22,158.20.

Gains were broad-based amid the softer yen, with retailers, oil and technology among the rising sectors. Against the yen, the U.S. dollar firmed to trade at 107.27 after slipping in the last session.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index recovered 221.5 points, or 0.7%, to 30,284.25

Korea’s improvement was driven by gains seen in manufacturing stocks and financials, among others. The technology space was mixed, although index heavyweight Samsung Electronics soared 2.8%

Australia also showed gains, as a slight decline in the heavily weighted financials sub-index was offset by gains seen in materials, energy and consumer names.

In corporate news, miner Rio Tinto announced Pilbara iron ore shipments rose to 80.3 million tons in the first quarter, a 5% increase from one year ago. Pilbara shipments this year are expected to remain between 330 and 340 million tons, the company said. Rio Tinto shares closed up 1.11%.

Markets in the region had drifted lower on Tuesday as investors digested the release of China growth data for the first quarter, which came in at 6.8%— slightly above estimates.

CHINA

In China, the CSI 300 regained 17.64 points, or 0.5%, to 3,766.28

Gains were driven by the move higher in bank stocks after China's central bank said Tuesday it was cutting the reserve requirement ratio by 100 basis points for most banks.

"China's reserve requirement ratio cut is supportive of risk sentiment as banks' profit is expected to improve with lower funding costs," OCBC Bank analysts said in a note.

Despite the broader climb, Chinese automakers took a beating after Beijing announced plans to ease restrictions in its car market.

Recent trade tensions also simmered as investors digested China's Tuesday announcement that it would impose deposits on U.S. sorghum imports. The announcements made by China reflected "a bit of give and take" on the trade front, ANZ analysts said.

In other markets

In Korea, the Kospi picked up 26.21 points, or 1.1%, to 2,479.98

In Singapore, the Straits Times Index grew 59.62 points, or 1.7%, to 3,557.82

In Taiwan, the Taiex Index hiked 37.44 points, or 0.4%, to 10,847.89

In New Zealand, the NZD 50 Index moved up 24.97 points, or 0.3%, to 8,369.49

In Australia, the ASX 200 Index added 19.87 points, or 0.3%, to 5,861.42