An increase in risk appetite and speculation about possible fresh Bank of Japan monetary easing lifted the dollar and euro against the yen, which in turn provided a platform for the Nikkei index.
Tokyo gained 0.89 percent, or 77.72 points, to 8,824.59, Sydney added 0.31 percent, or 13.8 points, to 4,452.4 and Hong Kong was 0.10 percent higher in the afternoon.
But Seoul eased 0.17 percent, or 3.35 points, to 1,992.68.
Shanghai is closed for a week-long public holiday.
Regional shares took their cue from Wall Street, which ended in positive territory after jobs and services figures provided some hope for the economy.
The Institute for Supply Management released its services industry index Wednesday, which showed the crucial sector picking up pace although hiring remained flat.
Separately, payrolls company ADP released a report showing private-sector hiring was better than expected in September, with 162,000 jobs added. Despite being down 14 percent from August the slowdown is less than expected.
US dealers welcomed the announcements. The Dow finished up 0.09 percent, the S&P 500 was 0.36 percent higher and the Nasdaq climbed 0.49 percent.
Eyes are now firmly on policy meetings over the next two days for the European Central Bank, the Bank of Japan and Bank of England, while closely watched non-farm payrolls are due out of Washington on Friday.
“There is a little bit of a wait-and-see attitude in Asia this week,” said Wee Khoon Chong, Asia rates strategist at Societe Generale in Hong Kong.
On currency markets the euro rose to $1.2923 and 101.61 yen in early trade, compared with $1.2903 and 101.31 yen in New York late Wednesday.
The dollar was at 78.63 yen against 78.51 yen.
Speculation has grown in the past few days that the BoJ may unveil new easing steps. While analysts say it probably won’t announce any fresh measures after a two-day meeting Friday, pressure is likely to continue for more action ahead of its next meeting scheduled for October 30.
Europe’s debt woes continue to weigh after Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said Tuesday he would not request a bailout any time soon, despite the parlous state of the country’s finances and its dangerously high borrowing costs.
Spain, the eurozone’s fourth-biggest economy, is required to make a formal demand for help in order to trigger the release of eurozone rescue funds and supportive bond-buying action from the European Central Bank.
Oil prices rose. New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in November, gained 17 cents to $88.31 a barrel and Brent North Sea crude added 37 cents to $108.54.
Gold was at $1,780.57 at 0600 GMT compared with $1,778.50 on Wednesday.
In other markets:
— Taipei ended flat, dipping 2.29 points to 7,682.34.
HTC fell 2.21 percent to Tw$287.0 while TSMC rose 0.89 percent to Tw$90.6.
— Wellington fell 0.20 percent, or 7.61 points, to 3,881.99.
Fletcher Building fell 1.2 percent to NZ$7.25, Fisher & Paykel Appliances rose 3.7 percent to NZ$1.25 and Air New Zealand added 2.9 percent to NZ$1.25.
— Dow Jones Newswires contributed to this report —