Asian stocks closed mostly higher Wednesday following a rebound on Wall Street.

Japan's Nikkei 225 stock average closed higher by 1.8% to 8004.10. The Hang Seng index in Hong Kong rose 1.4%.

Stocks in Australia rose 0.2% on news that the country's flagship airline


was in merger talks with

British Airways



The Australian government announced the economy slowed to growth of just 0.1% in the third quarter, the slowest pace in eight years.

Automakers in Japan, such as


(TM) - Get Report



(HMC) - Get Report

, saw their shares decline as U.S. auto sales plunged. The


newspaper reported Honda is scaling back expansion plans in emerging markets.

Stocks in Europe declined. The FTSE 100 index in London fell 1.3%, while the DAX in Frankfurt was lower by 2.2%.

Shares of



, the German semiconductor maker, were lower after the company reported a wider fourth-quarter loss.

Premarket futures in the U.S. were indicating a lower opening for stocks on Wall Street Wednesday.

S&P 500

futures were down 15.20 points to 833.80, and were 14.37 points below fair value.


futures fell 21 points to 1112, and were 17.83 points below fair value.

Stocks in the U.S. finished on the upside Tuesday, as

General Electric

(GE) - Get Report

narrowed its earnings forecast and the Big Three automakers returned to Capitol Hill hoping to secure a bailout.


Dow Jones Industrial Average

ended Tuesday up 270 points, or 3.3%, at 8419.09. The S&P 500 gained 32.60 points, or 4%, to 848.81, and the Nasdaq added 51.73 points, or 3.7%, to 1449.80.

Copyright 2008 Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. AP contributed to this report.