Japan shares hit 15-year high on trade data

Japanese shares Image copyright AFP
Image caption Japanese shares were up on trade data for April

Japan's shares closed at a 15-year high after data showed the country's trade account fell into a deficit in April, but was still better than expected.

The deficit was 53.4bn yen ($440m; £283m) - lower than 825.5bn yen a year ago, and below expectations of 318.9bn yen. There was a surplus in March.

Exports in the world's third largest economy rose 8% from a year ago - up for the eighth month - but imports fell by 4.2%, well above the 1.5% forecast.

The Nikkei was up 0.7% to 20,413.77.

That marks the seventh consecutive rise for the benchmark index, which is on its longest winning streak since December. It has gained 4.3% in the period.

Investors were expecting the deficit, but sentiment was boosted by the fact that the shortfall was much lower than anticipated.

Shares of Japan Tobacco were up 1.1% after local reports that Suntory Beverage & Food would buy its beverage vending machine business for 150bn yen. The firm had announced in February that it was getting out of the beverage industry.

China leads gains

Chinese shares hit another seven-year high with the Shanghai Composite up 2.4% to 4,768.98 - leading the region's gains.

Infrastructure and transport stocks boosted the benchmark index after Beijing said it was seeking private funding for over $300bn (£193bn) worth of public projects.

The Hong Kong market was closed for a public holiday.

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 ended higher by 1% to 5,721.5.

Shares of miner Sirius Resources jumped more than 21% after fellow miner Independence Group launched a $1.4bn bid to take it over and create a diverse base metals and gold mining group.

Meanwhile, markets in South Korea were closed for Buddha's birthday holiday.

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