Asian markets mostly higher on Italy lead

Asian markets mostly rose on Tuesday after another record close on Wall Street, while sentiment was also boosted by news that a new government had finally been formed in Italy after months of deadlock.

Japan's Nikkei, which was closed Monday for a holiday, was stuck in negative territory, however, as a stronger yen outweighed data pointing to a tentative recovery in the world's number three economy.

Tokyo fell 0.17 percent, or 23.27 points, to 13,860.86 and Seoul rose 1.20 percent, or 23.25 points, to 1,963.95, while Sydney jumped 1.28 percent, or 65.4 points, to 5,191.2. Hong Kong added 0.69 percent, or 156.24 points, to 22,737.01.

Shanghai was closed for a public holiday.

Dealers followed gains on Wall Street and in Europe after a coalition government was formed at the weekend in Italy, bringing to an end two months of uncertainty in the recession-hit country that had raised concerns over the eurozone.

Enrico Letta and his cabinet were sworn in on Sunday and he immediately promised to act fast to reverse an austerity policy he argued was killing the country, adding that "growth policies cannot wait".

The news from Rome lifted investor sentiment, with Milan stocks up around two percent, while the country's borrowing costs fell sharply.

Wall Street also welcomed the announcement and the broad-based S&P 500 rose 0.72 percent to an all-time record, while the Dow also climbed 0.72 percent and the Nasdaq added 0.85 percent.

While most of Asia's markets were higher, Tokyo edged down after a long weekend that saw the yen pick up some strength in the wake of the Bank of Japan's decision to hold off any fresh monetary easing measures.

The bank stood still on Friday, weeks after unveiling a huge stimulus programme that is part of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's drive to ramp up spending to boost growth and end years of deflation.

The dollar was changing hands at 97.54 yen in European trade, from 97.73 yen in New York late Monday. The greenback had been sitting at around 99.30 yen the day before the BoJ's announcement.

The euro fetched $1.3073 and 127.54 yen, against $1.3097 and 128.01 yen.

However, economists said the outlook was bright for Japan after data showed a modest pickup in factory output in March as unemployment hit its lowest since November 2008. There was also a rise in household spending.

"Despite stock price weakness, the signs for Japan's economy are positive," said CLSA equity strategist Nicholas Smith, who noted that data for March showed a rise in household spending and a fall in the jobless rate.

"Some of the data can be attributed to the 'Abenomics' effect on consumer confidence," Smith told Dow Jones Newswires.

On oil markets New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in June, rose seven cents to $94.57 a barrel and Brent North Sea crude for June was down 11 cents at $103.70.

An ounce of gold fetched $1,472.50 at 1050 GMT compared with $1,470.70 late Monday.

In other markets:

-- Singapore rose 0.19 percent, or 6.26 points, to 3,368.18.

United Overseas Bank dropped 0.19 percent to Sg$21.35 while oil rig maker Keppel Corp. added 0.19 percent to Sg$10.71.

-- Taipei rose 0.80 percent, or 63.92 points, to 8,093.66.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co was 1.39 percent higher at Tw$109.5 while leading smartphone maker HTC added 3.79 percent to Tw$301.0.

-- Manila closed 0.61 percent higher, adding 42.64 points to 7,070.99.

Ayala Land rose 2.2 percent to 32.45 pesos and retail store Puregold Price Club added 2.8 percent to 39.90 pesos.

-- Wellington rose 0.73 percent, or 33.41 points, to 4,614.37.

Fletcher Building was up 1.14 percent at NZ$8.64, Chorus added 0.73 percent to NZ2.75 and Air New Zealand was steady at NZ$1.50.

-- Kuala Lumpur rose 0.57 percent, or 9.68 points, to 1,717.65.

UMW Holdings advanced 2.6 percent to 14.30 ringgit while Genting Malaysia climbed 2.5 percent to 3.76 ringgit, while UEM Land Holdings fell 4.9 percent to 2.51 ringgit.

-- Jakarta added 0.69 percent, or 34.32 points, to 5,034.07.

Telekomunikasi Indonesia rose 2.63 percent to 11,700 rupiah, while food manufacturer Indofood Sukses Makmur fell 1.34 percent to 7,350 rupiah.

-- Bangkok gained 0.82 percent, or 12.93 points, to 1,597.86.

Bangkok Bank rose 2.26 percent to 226.00 baht, while coal producer Banpu was unchanged at 341.00 baht

-- Mumbai rose 0.60 percent, or 116.68 points, to 19,504.18.

Hindustan Unilever (HUL) surged 17.28 percent to 583.6 rupees while resources giant Vedanta's local arm Sterlite rose 4.03 percent to 95.45 rupees.