Asian stocks mostly higher on US rally

Asian markets have mostly edged up, with a rally on Wall Street and an upbeat global economic outlook helped by receding fears of a US-led strike on Syria.

However, profit-taking on Wednesday capped gains after the previous two days' advances, while firms linked to Apple dipped in a lacklustre response to its latest range of iPhones.

Tokyo ended flat owing to a late sell-off as dealers cashed in after a four per cent gain since the weekend that was fuelled by Japan's successful bid to host the 2020 Olympics and stronger than expected growth data.

The Nikkei ended 1.71 points higher at 14,425.07, while Sydney added 0.64 per cent, or 33.2 points, to 5,234.4 -- a 2013 high. Seoul closed 0.49 per cent higher, advancing 9.79 points to 2,003.85.

Shanghai rose 0.15 per cent, adding 3.28 points to end at 2,241.27, after another round of Chinese indicators that suggest the world's number two economy is picking up after a slowdown this year. However, Hong Kong was 0.32 per cent down in the afternoon following four straight sessions of gains.

US President Barack Obama vowed in a national address in Washington on Tuesday to give diplomacy a chance before launching a military attack on Syria for using chemical weapons on its own people last month.

The Assad regime earlier in the day agreed to a proposal by Russia to 'place the chemical weapons under international control and then have them destroyed'.

The news soothed tensions on global markets, which slumped last month as traders bet on an attack by the US and its allies, which they feared could spark a wider conflict in the Middle East.

Improving confidence among investors helped the dollar up against the yen, which is considered a safer bet in times of uncertainty.

In the afternoon the greenback bought 100.43 yen, compared with 100.40 yen late New York and well up from the 99.60 yen in Asia on Tuesday.

The euro fetched 132.91 yen and $US1.3253 against 132.48 yen and $US1.3251.

Regional markets were given a positive lead by Wall Street on the back of the Syria developments and the economic data out of China and Japan that suggest a healthy pick-up in the global economy. The Dow rose 0.85 per cent, the SP 500 added 0.73 per cent and the Nasdaq advanced 0.62 per cent.

Oil prices were mixed as easing Syria woes reduced concern about supply from the Middle East. New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate for delivery in October, eased 30 cents to $US107.09 a barrel in afternoon trade, while Brent North Sea crude for October gained 18 cents at $US111.43.

Both contracts had hit multi-month peaks in August, at the height of the Syrian crisis.

Apple-linked firms were broadly lower, with investors less than enthusiastic about the US firm's latest iPhones, which it unveiled on Tuesday. There was also disappointment that a trumpeted low-cost phone was not as cheap as had been hoped for.

Taiwanese assembler Hon Hai fell 1.3 per cent to Tw$76.00 and camera-lens supplier Largan shed 6.4 per cent to Tw$945.00, while in Tokyo parts supplier Murata Manufacturing Co. fell 2.6 per cent.

Gold cost $US1,367.60 an ounce at 0705 GMT compared with $US1,372.04 late Tuesday.