Japanese stocks lead gains in Asia on Thursday

Nikkei Image copyright Getty Images

Japanese stocks led gains in Asia on Thursday despite disappointing trade figures that showed exports had fallen for a fourth straight month.

The Nikkei 225 closed up 2.28% to 16,196.80 points.

Rising oil prices supported investor sentiment through the trading day together with better-than-forecast US economic data released earlier.

Toyota's shares closed up 1.71% in Tokyo trade despite a global recall of several million vehicles.

The firm said in the event of a crash, some seatbelts on a range of vehicles could be damaged by a metal seat frame part.

Toyota Australia said it was recalling approximately 98,000 RAV4 vehicles built between August 2005 and November 2012 due to the issue, but that no accidents had occurred as a result of the problem.

"The repairs will take approximately 60 minutes and will be conducted free of charge," said Toyota.

Australia's ASX 200 index closed higher, up 2.25% to 4,992.00 points.

Big energy companies supported the index with giants like BHP up more than 6% on higher oil prices.

In China, markets were in positive territory for much of the day. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index closed up 2.32% to 19,363.08.

However, the Shanghai Composite ended flat, down 0.16% to 2,862.89.

Fresh official numbers showed that inflation in China rose to 1.8% in January, slightly weaker than analysts expected.

Elsewhere, South Korea's Kospi index finished up 1.32% to 1,908.84 in line with the rest of the region.

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