Asian markets rose on Thursday on hopes for fresh Chinese stimulus as well as bargain buying, but gains were mostly capped as fears over Spanish and Greek debt returned to the fore.
With violent anti-austerity protests breaking out on the streets of Madrid and Athens, concerns continue to mount that the market euphoria from this month's central bank stimulus announcements has evaporated.
Shanghai surged 2.60 percent, or 52.15 points, to 2,056.32 after it closed at a 44-month low on Wednesday.
Hong Kong added 1.14 percent, or 234.56 points, to 20,762.29, Tokyo gained 0.48 percent, or 43.17 points, to 8,949.87, Sydney added 0.52 percent, or 22.6 points, to 4,384.2 and Seoul rose 0.42 percent, or 8.26 points, to 1,988.70.
After weeks of calm that saw the European, US and Japanese central banks unveil plans to boost growth, focus has returned to the eurozone, and in particular Spain and Greece, which has led to a sell-off in recent days.
But regional sentiment was lifted Thursday by solid gains in Shanghai, where there are hopes the government will soon announce fresh monetary easing to boost the economy.
Chinese markets are closed next week for the National Day holiday, which observers hope will provide a chance for leaders to introduce measures such as an interest rate cut or a reduction in bank reserve requirements.
Dealers have been awaiting action from lawmakers as the economy continues to slow in reaction to slumping demand in debt-hit Europe and the United States, which has hit manufacturing.
Also helping to lift the mainland were easing fears over a share glut after a report in the state-run China Securities Journal that shareholders in 32 firms on the ChiNext would not sell after a lock-up period ends soon.
In Europe thousands of protesters rallied near parliament in Madrid for a second straight night as the government prepares to pass its 2013 austerity budget on Thursday, with 39 billion euros ($50 billion) in savings.
The trouble came as the country's borrowing costs broke back above six percent and towards the seven percent danger level seen as unsustainable.
With the passage of the budget Spain should be able to apply for much-needed bailout cash from the European Union, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund, which would open the door for the ECB to begin buying bonds.
However, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has refused so far to ask for help until he knows what the conditions are -- a situation that has left dealers in limbo.
In Athens police and masked youths clashed during a general strike in protest at a new round of austerity introduced as it tries to unlock the next batch of cash from a rescue package that is needed to pay wages and bills.
"The main focus for investors globally is once again Europe, with Greece and Spain remaining the main concerns," said Jason Hughes, head of premium client management at IG Markets Singapore.
"Neither seems able to do enough to put its house and mountains of debt in order, and most developments have not appeased markets for long," he said in a market commentary.
"Despite all that has been promised so far by the ECB (European Central Bank) and the moves forward by politicians, we seem to be as far as ever from the endgame for the eurozone crisis."
In afternoon trade, the euro bought $1.2870 and 100.01 yen, compared with $1.2870 and 100.04 yen late Wednesday in New York.
The dollar changed hands at 77.71 yen, against 77.70 yen.
On oil markets, New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in November was up 32 cents to $90.30 a barrel in afternoon trade after closing overnight below $90 a barrel for the first time since August 2.
Brent North Sea crude for November delivery gained 15 cents to $110.19.
Gold was at $1,757.21 at 0820 GMT compared with $1,763.60 on Wednesday.
In other markets:
-- Taipei closed 0.18 percent, or 14.17 points, higher at 7,683.80.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. rose 1.39 percent to Tw$87.6 while HTC fell 3.32 percent to Tw$291.0.
-- Wellington was flat, giving up 0.30 points to 3,809.03.
-- Manila closed 0.17 percent higher, adding 8.86 points to 5,301.49.
Bloomberry Resorts gained 2.38 percent to 11.16 pesos while Philippine Long Distance Telephone eased 0.43 percent to 2,780 pesos.