Among individual stocks, Japanese mobile phone carrier Softbank Corp. jumped 2.9 percent after reports said it will launch a smartphone-based health service in the coming months, Kyodo News reported. Australian resource-related shares rose. OZ minerals surged 6.3 percent. BHP Billiton, the world's largest mining company, rose 1.9 percent.

Analysts at DBS Bank Ltd. in Singapore said in a commentary that investors view the U.S. economy as one that is "growing, more or less, and that's a heck of a lot better than what's going on in Europe," which is mired in recession.

Benchmark oil for June delivery was up 6 cents to $95.68 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 54 cents to finish at $95.62 per barrel on the Nymex on Tuesday.

In currencies, the euro rose to $1.3117 from $1.3084 late Tuesday in New York. The dollar fell to 98.84 yen from 99.40 yen.

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