TOKYO: Japan's Nikkei rose more than 1 percent to hit a near two-year high on Tuesday following a rebound in U.S. hi-tech shares as investors bet on solid growth in the economy and corporate profits globally.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was little changed in early trade.
A big focus for Asia is whether index provider MSCI will later in the day open up its Emerging Markets Index to Chinese mainland shares which have restricted access for foreign investors.
Many investors expect the so-called A shares that make up the majority of China's stock market are likely to be included after being rejected on three previous occasions.
Wall Street's S&P 500 and the Dow industrial average hit record highs as technology shares bounced back after some sudden falls earlier this month.
"Hi-tech shares just went through a correction. Their valuation is not that expensive, standing far below their levels at the peak of dot-com bubble in 2000. Given that their profits are expected to see exponential growth in coming years, it is premature to say the rally in hi-tech shares is over," said Mutsumi Kagawa, chief global strategist at Rakuten Securities.
U.S. financial shares also gained as U.S. debt yields rose after New York Fed President William Dudley, a close ally of Fed Chair Janet Yellen, said U.S. inflation should rebound alongside wages as the labor market continues to improve.
The 10-year U.S. Treasuries yield edged up to 2.191 percent from seven-month low of 2.103 percent touched on Wednesday following surprisingly weak U.S. inflation data.
"Even though the Federal Reserve is about to shrink its balance sheet, possibly as soon as in September, U.S. bond yields are kept at low levels, which are very comfortable for stocks," said Norihiro Fujito, senior investment analyst at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities.
"Trade volume is light and whether the market continues to rise depends on whether large cap tech shares continue to rebound," he also said.
The rebound in U.S. bond yields helped to lift the U.S. dollar. The euro traded at US$1.1148, just above its two-week low of US$1.11315 set on Thursday.The British pound slipped slightly to US$1.2732 from Monday's high of US$1.2814, held back by uncertainty over domestic politics and over Britain's economic future, as formal Brexit negotiations got under way on Monday.
Oil prices flirted with this year's lows as market players saw more signs that rising crude production in the United States, Libya and Nigeria undercut OPEC-led efforts to support the market with output curbs.
Brent crude futures traded at US$47.01 per barrel, up 0.2 percent on the day but not far from last week's low of US$46.70 and five-month low of US$46.64 touched in early May.
U.S. crude futures stood at US$44.28 per barrel, about a half cent above its five-month low of US$43.76 set on May 5.
Safe-haven gold hit one-month low of US$1,243.3 an ounce As risk sentiment improved.