HONG KONG?Asian shares rose Wednesday as dealers moved in after two poor performances at the start of the week, with Tokyo lifted by a weaker yen and strong results from computer giant Dell.
Hopes for an end to the European debt crisis lifted the euro despite concerns that discussions could be hit by the detention of IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn on sexual assault charges in the United States.
Tokyo gained 0.99 percent, or 95.06 points, to 9,662.08, Hong Kong added 0.48 percent, or 110.06 points, to 23,011.14 and Shanghai ended up 0.70 percent, or 20 points, at 2,872.77.
Seoul put on 1.59 percent, or 33.37 points, to end at 2,135.78.
Sydney gained 0.21 percent, or 9.8 points, to 4,693.7 but suffered a late sell-off after Moody's downgraded its credit rating on Australia's big four banks, citing volatile global lending markets.
Tech stocks in Japan were lifted after US firm Dell announced on Tuesday that net profit nearly tripled to $945 million in the first three months and predicted revenue growth for the April-June period.
Traders were also given a boost after a report said chipmaker Renesas had laid out a plan to bring post-quake production near Tokyo back up to full speed in October, earlier than expected.
"Dell's outstanding numbers blew away investors' concerns that consumer spending is slowing down globally, especially after the March 11 disaster in Japan," Tatsunori Kawai, chief strategist at kabu.com Securities, told Dow Jones Newswires.
The Nikkei was also boosted by a relatively weaker yen as hopes rose the European sovereign debt crisis can be solved after a 78 billion euro bailout for Portugal was signed off and talks continued over further help for Greece.
Leading eurozone policy-maker Jean-Claude Juncker said a "soft restructuring" of Athens' 330-billion-euro debt is a possibility as an EU-IMF mission in Athens was extended by one week.
The euro gained to $1.4275 in Tokyo trade, up from $1.4234 in New York late Tuesday.
The single European currency held on to most of its gains against the yen, standing at 115.72 in Tokyo, little changed from 115.79 yen in New York.
The dollar slipped against the Japanese yen to 81.08 yen from 81.36 yen.
Although the yen gained in the afternoon it was still lower than recent weeks.
"The possibility of all-encompassing measures to help restore confidence in Greece and Portugal's bailout appears to have provided the euro a platform for short-term strength," said Chris Gore, currency analyst at GOMarkets in Sydney.
There had been worries over the talks as Strauss-Kahn was trusted by both lenders and borrowers among the eurozone and his arrest came at a key time for struggling nations.
The IMF chief was held at the weekend over claims he attempted to rape a New York hotel maid and has been refused bail.
"The more significant driver of currencies was US dollar weakness," said National Australia Bank in a client report.
"This came on the back of disappointing US data releases that caused the market to question the durability of the US recovery," it said.
Confidence in the economic strength of the United States was knocked after data showed housing starts tumbled 10.6 percent from March to an annual rate of 523,000, lower than analysts' projections of about 563,000.
Building permits also fell 4.0 percent from the prior month to an annual rate of 551,000, well below expectations.
The figures hurt the Dow, which ended down 0.55 percent.
In Sydney the Big Four banks were sold near the end of trade after Moody's cut its rating on them to Aa2 from Aa1.
The Big Four includes Australia and New Zealand Banking Group, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Westpac, and National Australia Bank.
Shares of all four declined from their intra-day highs after the decision but National Australia Bank and ANZ still managed to finish up, while Commonwealth and Westpac were only marginally in the red.
On oil markets New York's main contract, light sweet crude for June delivery advanced 79 cents to $97.70 a barrel and Brent North Sea crude for July delivery gained 60 cents to $110.59.
Gold closed at $1,493-$1,494 per ounce, down slightly from its Tuesday close of $1,494 -$1,495.
In other markets:
-- Singapore closed 0.15 percent, or 4.73 points, higher at 3,141.21.
Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp gained 0.75 percent to Sg$9.46 and SingTel dipped 1.26 percent to Sg$3.13.
-- Taipei rose 0.68 percent, or 60.75 points, to 8,944.84.
Hon Hai rose 1.92 percent to Tw$106.0 while Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company fell 0.4 percent to Tw$75.3.
-- Manila closed 0.98 percent, or 41.71 points, higher at 4,303.31.
Lepanto Consolidated Mining gained 12.82 percent to 88 centavos and DMCI Holdings rose 3.01 percent to 42.75 pesos while and Banco de Oro gained 2.09 percent to 58.65 pesos.
-- Wellington closed flat, edging up 1.50 points, to 3,559.55.
Telecom rose 0.4 percent to NZ$2.38 but Air New Zealand slipped 0.9 percent to NZ$1.12 and Fletcher Building was down 0.9 percent to NZ$9.00.
-- Kuala Lumpur ended 0.33 percent, or 5 points, higher at 1,541.27.
Malaysian Airline fell 3.5 percent to 1.68 ringgit and gaming giant Genting Malaysia lost 1.4 percent to 3.55 but plantation firm Glenealy added 3.3 percent to 5.27 ringgit and rival IOI Corp rose 2.3 percent to 5.31.
-- Jakarta gained 1.08 percent, or 40.98 points, to 3,840.20.