Mainland China share indexes hit the ground running Thursday as traders returned from a weeklong holiday and started to catch-up with a world equities rise fueled by hopes for economic recovery.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng extended gains into an eighth day.
The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index was last up 1.81%, or 66.00 points, to 3,721.09 points, while the Shenzhen Composite Index on China's second exchange had climbed 1.89%, or 46.46 points, to 2,507.00.
The Hang Seng Index was up 0.32%, or 98.42 points, to 31,183.36 points.
Helping the rise was Baidu, Inc. - the China internet company. Its Nasdaq-listed shares are forecast to rise 3.5% Thursday in the U.S. after an overnight fall of 5.4%. This was before sales data that topped estimates on its efforts to diversify into the cloud and artificial intelligence. Revenue for the period ending in March was 26 billion yuan ($5.35 billion) to 28.5 billion yuan, compared with the 25.9-billion-yuan average estimate of analysts. Sales last quarter rose 4.8%, the fastest pace in 2020 on a 52% increase in its nonadvertising businesses like AI cloud.
Meanwhile, MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell 0.15% but was still close to its high. Australian stocks erased gains to trade 0.05% lower while Japan's Nikkei was unchanged. E-mini futures for the S&P 500 fell 0.04%.
Yields on two-year Treasurys hit a record low and the 10-year yield extended a pullback from a one-year high as a bond market sell-off started to fade.
Strong U.S. retail sales, new signs the Federal Reserve will maintain its accommodative stance, and an ongoing push for further U.S. stimulus have bolstered economic optimism, but some analysts remain cautious because new strains of the coronavirus continue to emerge.
"With an even larger stimulus package likely to be passed by Congress before the end of March, the U.S. economic recovery could gain more momentum in 2021," Commonwealth Bank of Australia currency analyst Carol Kong said.
"Despite the recent positive vaccine developments, the international economic outlook remains uncertain partly because of the spreading virus variants."
On Wall Street, technology stocks fell, driving down the Nasdaq while other companies rose on broader economic optimism.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.29%, while the S&P 500 lost 0.03% and the Nasdaq composite dropped 0.58%.
The MSCI's international stock index fell 0.04% but was still near a record high.
While market participants considered inflation, minutes from the January U.S. Federal Reserve meeting showed members were willing to push further accommodation to boost the pandemic-scarred U.S. economy.
Hopes for a stronger U.S. economy supported the dollar. The dollar index, a measure of the currency's strength against six other comparative currencies, was steady, holding onto a 0.25% gain from the previous session.
The risk-on appetite was apparent in bitcoin, which continued its upward march to exceed $52,000 on signs it may be gaining more mainstream acceptance. Cryptocurrency ethereum also rose more than 2% to a record high of $1,900.
The two-year U.S. Treasury yield briefly touched a record low of 0.1049%. Benchmark 10-year yields eased slightly to 1.2669%, pulling away from the highest level since Feb. 27, 2020, as some market participants judged that recent selling of fixed income had gone too far.
Cold in Texas continued to drive up oil prices, as the unusual weather hampered output at the largest U.S. crude producing state. Brent crude gained 1.35% to $65.22 a barrel, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude rose 1.29% to $61.93 a barrel, both reaching levels not seen since January last year.
Spot gold prices rose 0.14% to $1,778.72 per ounce. U.S. gold futures rose 0.28% to $1,777.60 per ounce.