SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- Asian stock markets rallied Wednesday as solid U.S. housing sales data and overnight gains on Wall Street raised expectations for a strong recovery in the world's largest economy.
KEEPING SCORE: Japan's Nikkei 225 rose 1.6 percent to 16,757.35 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng index jumped 2.5 percent to 20,314.52. South Korea's Kospi gained 1.2 percent to 1,957.87 while Australia's S&P/ASX 200 advanced 1.5 percent to 5,372.50. Stocks in Taiwan, Singapore and Southeast Asia also gained.
US RECOVERY: The U.S. Commerce Department said Tuesday that new home sales leaped 16.6 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted rate of 619,000, the highest level since January 2008. Steady job gains and low mortgage rates have encouraged more Americans to buy new homes in a sign that the housing market and the broader economy are in good shape.
ANALYST'S TAKE: "Such upbeat data have dissipated doubts concerning the recovery in the housing sector," Mizuho Bank said in a daily commentary. "While this strengthens expectations that the Fed may be more comfortable to raise policy rate in summer, markets do not appear to be unsettled."
WALL STREET: U.S. stocks on Tuesday notched their biggest gain since March. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 1.2 percent to 17,706.05 and the Standard & Poor's 500 index gained 1.4 percent to 2,076.06. The Nasdaq composite index surged 2 percent to 4,861.06.
OIL: Benchmark U.S. crude gained 62 cents to $49.24 per barrel in New York. The contract finished 54 cents higher at $48.62 on Tuesday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, rose 74 cents to $49.34 a barrel in London.
CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 110.05 yen from 110.06 yen. The euro strengthened to $1.1150 from $1.1143.