Asian stocks rose as data showed Japan™s economy exiting recession, with the Nikkei 225 Stock Average closing above 18,000 for the first time since 2007. Financial shares led the advance.

Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc., Japan™s biggest lender, gained 3.1 percent as the biggest boost to the regional index. Electric-car maker BYD Co. jumped 11 percent in Hong Kong on speculation Apple Inc. will enter the industry. Noble Group Ltd. slumped 8.3 percent after the trading company rejected a research report questioning its accounting practices. Utilities were the only group on the MSCI Asia Pacific Index to decline, with New Zealand™s Contact Energy Ltd. dropping 9 percent after first-half profit plunged.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index added 0.3 percent to 143.37 as of 4:03 p.m. in Hong Kong. The Topix index rose 0.7 percent after Japan™s gross domestic product increased at an annualized 2.2 percent in the three months ended Dec. 31 after a two-quarter contraction. Analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News expected a 3.7 percent increase.

Japan fell into recession after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe increased the sales tax in April. Business spending in the three months ended Dec. 31 rose 0.1 percent from the previous quarter, while private consumption increased 0.3 percent.

Source : Bloomberg