Asian Markets Follow U.S. Earnings Higher

Shares in Asia rose Wednesday. In Japan the Nikkei 225 Index climbed 1.8% to 10,457 and in Hong Kong the Hang Seng Index also gained 1.8% ending the day at 23,909. Markets in China were closed for Chinese New Year and won't be trading again until Monday.

Impressive earnings reports for blue-chip U.S. companies and a rise in American manufacturing data bolstered markets across Asia. According to Bloomberg Businessweek, January's manufacturing data for the U.S. neared a seven-year high, despite expectation that activity would slow. Add to that a 29% hike in second-quarter profit profits for Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) and figures like a 24% rise in sales for American semiconductor component maker Entegris (ENTG) and the global economy is beginning to look a whole lot steadier.

Japanese car makers shot up after reports that sales in the U.S. were climbing at Toyota and other dealerships. Toyota racked up a 3.3% gain while Fuji Heavy, which not only makes trusty Subarus, but also jet engines and other heavy-duty machinery, surged 5.2%. Mazda gained 2.1%, Isuzu advanced 1.5% and Honda added 0.9%.

Companies making components for Japan's car industry also rallied with Alps motoring up 7.1% and Asahi Glass zipping up 4%. Jtekt, part of the Toyota group, gained 3.7%.

Electronics exporters joined the party with Mitsubishi Electric jumping 7.4% and Casio Computer jumping 6.6%. Toshiba climbed 5.1%, Pioneer was up 4.3% and Sony advanced 2%.

Financials also contributed to today's welcome gains. Mizuho Financial Group ended the day up 5.1% and Mitsubishi UFJ and Sumitomo Mitsui both racked up 4.5% gains.

Good News to Start Chinese New Year Holiday

Nearly every stock on Hong Kong's big board rose today. There were big prizes for real estate companies with Cheung Kong catapulted 5.7%, Sino Land reaping a 3.5% gain, China Resource Land advancing 2.6% and Sun Hung Kai gaining 2.4%.

Hong Kong retailers were also on the up and up with Esprit rising 1.6% and Li & Fung, responsible for stocking the shelves of U.S. behemoths like Walmart and Target, gaining 2.2%.

Other big gainers included Luk Fook, a jewelry company selling all manner of gold, jade and jewel encrusted jewelry, which surged 6.4% and cargo company Cosco Pacific, which soared 4.4%. China Daye Non-Ferrous Metals Mining, meanwhile hit the 10% mark after reports that it plans to expand its business by snapping up shares in additional mines, writes And with those impressive gains, Hong Kong traders begin their Chinese New Year holiday on a positive note.