HONG KONG: Asian markets climbed on Thursday -- with Tokyo hitting a near six-year high -- following a Wall Street rally, while the yen sank on comments from a Japanese central banker hinting at further monetary easing.
The Japanese currency was sitting around six-month lows against the dollar and a four-year low against the euro.
Tokyo surged 1.80 percent, or 277.49 points, to 15,727.12 -- its highest since mid-December 2007 -- as exporters benefited from the softening yen.
Seoul rose 0.84 percent, or 16.96 points, to 2,045.77, while Sydney was flat, edging up 1.4 points to 5,334.3.
Shanghai ended 0.83 percent higher, adding 18.30 points to 2,219.37, while Hong Kong succumbed to late profit-taking to end flat, edging down 17.26 points to 23,789.09.
While analysts said US trade had been subdued this week owing to Thursday's Thanksgiving holiday, investors managed to run up new records in New York.
Official data showed first-time claims for US unemployment benefits fell 10,000 last week to 316,000.
That overshadowed disappointing durable goods sales, with the Dow ending up 0.15 percent Wednesday and the S&P 500 adding 0.25 percent -- both at record highs.
Also, the tech-heavy Nasdaq rose 0.67 percent to end above 4,000 for the first time since the end of the dotcom bubble in 2000.
The dollar rose in New York to highs not seen since the end of May after Bank of Japan board member Sayuri Shirai said it "should not hesitate" to take additional easing steps if the economy's recent revival stalls or inflation refuses to rise.
In afternoon Tokyo trade the dollar was at 102.17 yen, compared with 102.16 yen in New York Wednesday and well up from the 101.50 yen seen in Asia earlier Wednesday.
"As the market begins to consider the possibility of a Fed taper in December... and further BoJ action likely in the new year, we feel that the current move could be the beginning of the next step change," foreign exchange strategists at Credit Suisse said in a note to clients.
The yen has tumbled against the dollar this year as the government and BoJ embark on a big-spending policy blitz and monetary easing campaign aimed at stoking economic growth and inflation. However, while the economy saw impressive growth initially there are fears the effects of the spending may be waning.
The euro continued to be supported by news that German Chancellor Angela Merkel had finally agreed a deal to form a coalition government to lead Europe's biggest economy.
The single currency bought 139.10 yen compared with 138.71 yen in New York, sitting at highs not seen since June 2009. It also fetched $1.3605 compared with $1.3576.
On oil markets New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate for January delivery, was down one cent at $92.29 in afternoon Asian trading. Brent North Sea crude for January rose 12 cents to $111.43.
Gold fetched $1,241.24 per ounce at 0810 GMT compared with $1,252.73 on Wednesday.
Leading chip design house MediaTek climbed 1.52 percent to Tw$435.0 while Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co was unchanged at Tw$105.0.
Sentiment was lifted after the government said the economy would likely grow seven percent in 2013 despite the devastating effects of Super Typhoon Haiyan earlier this month. The forecast came as official figures showed growth came in at seven percent in the three months to September.
Philippine Long Distance Telephone rose 1.77 percent to 2,650 pesos, while SM Prime Holdings added 1.26 percent to 16.02 pesos, and SM Investments advanced 2.47 percent to 748 pesos.
Auckland Airport added 1.6 percent to NZ$3.47 and Air New Zealand climbed 2.1 percent to end at NZ$1.67, while Fletcher Building closed down 0.8 percent at NZ$9.15.