Asian Stocks Gain After Wall Street Rally on Economic Data

Men walk past an electronic board showing Japan's Nikkei average outside a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan January 20, 2016. Japan's benchmark Nikkei share average tumbled to a fresh 14-1/2 month low on Wednesday as global markets were battered by plunging crude prices that slid to nearly $27 a barrel in the U.S. REUTERS/Toru Hanai
Men walk past an electronic board showing Japan’s Nikkei average, outside a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan. (Reuters/Toru Hanai)

TOKYO (AP) - Asian stocks jumped Wednesday after encouraging signs of strength in the U.S. economy sent shares higher on Wall Street.

A weak yen added to investor optimism, sending Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 up 4.1 percent to close at 16,746.55. South Korea’s Kospi rose 1.6 percent to 1,947.42 and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 gained 1.9 percent to 5,083.50. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 3.3 percent to 20,046.86, while the Shanghai Composite Index climbed 3.6 percent to 2,831.76. Other regional markets also rose, including Singapore, Taiwan, and Indonesia.

Stocks on Wall Street roared to their best day in more than a month on positive data, including construction spending reaching its highest level in eight years in January. Separately, a survey showed some signs of life in the down-beaten U.S. manufacturing sector.

The Dow Jones industrial average jumped 348.58 points, or 2.1 percent, to 16,865.08. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index surged 46.12 points, or 2.4 percent, to 1,978.35. That was the biggest gain for the S&P 500, a widely used benchmark, since late January. The Nasdaq composite index, which is heavily weighted with technology companies, made its biggest gain since August, adding 131.65 points, or 2.9 percent, to 4,689.60.

U.S. crude fell 23 cents, to $34.17 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange and then after the markets opened, gained 65 cents, reaching $34.40 a barrel on Tuesday. Brent crude, the benchmark for international oils, rose 10 cents to $36.91 a barrel in London.

The euro fell to $1.0865 from $1.0883 late Tuesday and the dollar rose to 114.19 yen from 112.38 yen.