Stocks rise amid hopes of US deal
Signs that US political leaders may be closing in on a budget deal to avoid the so-called "fiscal cliff" boosted Asian stock markets.
Comments by President Barack Obama and Speaker of the House John Boehner that a deal to avoid a budget crisis could be reached before year's end was enough to boost markets in the face of disappointing US home sales, a critical indicator of whether the economy is improving.
Otherwise, a series of automatic tax increases and sharp spending cuts will take effect that could drag the world's top economy into recession.
Mr Obama said on Wednesday he believes a "framework" agreement can be reached before Christmas.