Asian shares rise after strong day on Wall Street

Stocks in Asia rose in early trading Wednesday, following in the footsteps of shares in the U.S. that were boosted by strong earnings and positive economic data.

Oil prices hovered below $91 a barrel Wednesday in Asia as a report showed U.S. gasoline and crude supplies rose more than expected last week, suggesting a demand recovery remains uneven.

Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 stock average was up 2 percent to 10,475.1.

Markets in China, Korea and Taiwan were closed Wednesday for the Chinese Lunar New Year.

Shares in Singapore were higher, as were shares in Hong Kong, which was scheduled for only a half-day of trading.

Australia's S&P/ASX index was up 0.9 percent at 4,796.50. Shares in New Zealand, the Philippines and Indonesia were also higher.

The gains came after a strong showing on Wall Street, where the Dow Jones industrial average gained 1.1 percent, to 12,020 and the broader S&P 500 rose 1.6 percent to 1,306. Both closed at their highest levels since mid-2008.

A spate of strong earnings including Pfizer Inc. and United Parcel Service Inc. cheered investors in the U.S., as did a report that manufacturing activity expanded in January at its fastest pace in nearly seven years.

In currencies, the dollar rose to 81.57 yen from 81.4 yen late Tuesday. The euro was steady at $1.383.

Benchmark crude for March delivery was up 10 cents to $90.87 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract lost $1.42 to settle at $90.77 on Tuesday.