HONG KONG - Asian markets rose Wednesday thanks to a positive lead from Wall Street, but gains were capped by lingering doubts about an upcoming European Union summit aimed at tackling the eurozone debt crisis.
Tokyo closed up 0.77 per cent, or 66.50 points, at 8,730.49, while Sydney closed 0.75 per cent, or 29.9 points, up at 4,043.2 and Hong Kong added 1.08 per cent in the afternoon.
Seoul ended flat, edging down 0.16 points to close at 1,817.65, while in late trade Shanghai was also little changed.
US markets were given a boost by the S&P Case-Shiller price index for 20 major US cities, which rose for the third straight month in April.
The modest rise in the US market, caused by property prices falling less than expected, provided a fillip as the sector is a key component in the world's biggest economy.
However, separately the Conference Board reported that consumers grew more pessimistic about the economy for the fourth consecutive month in June.
The Dow gained 0.26 per cent, the S&P 500 rose 0.48 per cent and the Nasdaq added 0.63 per cent.
Eyes are on Europe, with leaders meeting in Brussels for two days of talks from Thursday to consider proposals to give EU authorities more power over national budgets, and to centralise banking supervision.
But economists are unconvinced they will be able to overcome their differences to hammer out a coherent deal.
Some of the region's top finance chiefs met in Paris Tuesday to try to pave the way for a summit deal.
French Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici said the gathering would be anything but "banal" and would tackle real issues, while Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti vowed to work overtime to save the euro.
"We cannot allow this extraordinary European piece of work to which Italy has always contributed to go bust," Monti said in a speech to the Italian parliament.
A report drawn up by EU and eurozone leaders Herman Van Rompuy, Jose Manuel Barroso, Jean-Claude Juncker and Mario Draghi proposes to move "over the next decade" towards greater centralised power for the "financial sector, for budgetary matters and for economic policy."
In the report, EU president Van Rompuy said: "The euro-area level would be in a position to require changes to (national) budgetary envelopes if they are in violation of fiscal rules."
The meeting comes against a backdrop of a downgrade for 28 Spanish lenders by Moody's and an appeal by Madrid for rescue cash to prop up its banking sector.
This week also saw Cyprus become the latest eurozone member to ask for a handout as its economy struggles owing to its exposure to Greece's debt mountain.
In Sydney shares in Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation soared 2.42 per cent to end at Aus$21.50 after confirming it is considering a split into two publicly traded companies, separating its publishing assets from its bigger entertainment arm.
The euro bought US$1.2490 (S$1.56) and 99.36 yen in afternoon Asian trade, compared with $1.2495 and 99.36 yen in New York late Tuesday. The dollar was trading 79.54 yen against 79.51 yen.
On oil markets New York's main contract, light sweet crude for August delivery was 18 cents lower at US$79.18 a barrel and Brent North Sea crude for August delivery dropped 23 cents to US$92.75 79.
Gold was at US$1,569.10 an ounce at 0630 GMT (2:30 pm local time), compared with US$1,584.76 late Tuesday.
In other markets:
- Wellington added 0.19 per cent, or 6.46 points to 3,387.78. Telecom Corp. was up 3.74 per cent to NZ$2.44 and Fletcher Building slipped 1.53 per cent to NZ$5.79.
- Taipei rose 0.63 per cent, 45.08 points, to 7,183.01.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co ended up 0.76 per cent higher at Tw$79.3 while smartphone maker HTC gained 2.31 per cent at Tw$376.0.