Japanese banks such as Mitsubishi UFJ (MTU - Get Report), which gained 1.83%, to 1,111 yen, were stronger on economic data. Unemployment in Japan fell to 4% in September, up from August's 3.8%, and its highest level since March 2007. That increases the likelihood of the Bank of Japan holding off on a rate hike until the early 2008.
In addition, the Japanese small business confidence index eased to 47.8 in October, from 49.1 a month earlier.
The yen was trading slightly weaker vs. the dollar on the data, at 114.49 vs. yesterday's 114.23.
In China, shares continued to surge, as the Shanghai Composite Index ended the day up 149 points, or 2.6%, at 5,897. The Hang Seng ended in record territory for the third day running, climbing 51 points, or 0.16%, to 31,638 points.In Hong Kong, investors are awaiting the debut of Alibaba.com, which raised $1.5 billion, valuing the company at $8.8 billion and making it the second-largest IPO of a tech company after Google (GOOG). Most of the big momentum stocks lost on profit-taking however, with the market being held by select financials and commodity stocks. China Mobile (CHL) fell 0.57%, to HK$158, while China Netcom (CN) slipped 2.25%, to HK$23.90. PetroChina (PTR - Get Report) was up marginally, 0.71%, to HK$19.76, while Aluminum Corp. of China (ACH) lost 0.87%, to HK$22.75 in Hong Kong, but gained 4% in Shanghai, to 50 yuan on higher commodity prices.