Asian markets pick up pieces, make solid gains after big losses

Asian stocks notched largely solid gains Thursday, with Japan and South Korea recovering some of Wednesday’s near-2% declines in their benchmarks.

The gains also follow roughly 1% advances in the U.S., as risk assets recovered from start-of-week slides fueled by Italy-related uncertainty.

The Nikkei

NIK, +0.83%

  rose 0.8%, while South Korea’s Kospi

SEU, +0.58%

  put up a 0.6% gain. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200

XJO, +0.45%

  — which held up much better Wednesday in dropping just 0.5% — took back that loss with a nearly 0.5% gain Thursday. New Zealand’s NZX 50

NZ50GR, +0.13%

 , the lone index in the Asia-Pacific region that rose Wednesday, was up a further 0.1%.

Japanese stocks opened with solid gains. But the yen was rising anew in early Asian trading, with the dollar

USDJPY, -0.11%

  back below ¥108.75 after changing hands at ¥108.90 in late New York action. The stock index has fallen five of the past seven days, notching a six-week closing low Wednesday.

Chinese stock indexes started with among the biggest gains in the region, rising some 1% after posting among the largest declines Wednesday at 2.5%. That came as manufacturing PMI showed unexpected strength for May. Just the same, Chinese equities have gotten oversold with six straight days of declines; the Shanghai Composite Index

SHCOMP, +1.78%

  on Wednesday set a 19-month closing low while notching its first six-day losing streak in 4½ years. The index, however, logged a nearly 1.8% gain Thursday.

Hong Kong stocks traded solidly though the Hang Seng

HSI, +1.37%

  is poised to log its third monthly drop in the past four.

Singapore’s Straits Times Index

STI, -0.46%

  gained initially, with banks leading the way, but ended down 0.5%. Following a record-worst 3.2% drop Wednesday, Malaysia’s stock benchmark

FBMKLCI, +1.24%

  rebounded 1.2%.