Asian shares gain on China GDP, Nikkei boosted by SoftBank

Asian shares posted gains on the back of better than expected first quarter growth figures from China, though other data showed a weak spot for March industrial production, while in Japan SoftBank pulled the Nikkei 225 higher.

Chian's first quarter GDP rose 7.4%, while March retail sales increased 12.2%, slightly above 12.1% expected, and March industrial output rose 8.8%, slightly below the 9.0% expected.

Economists expected China GDP growth slowed to 7.3% year-on-year, from a gain of 7.7% in the previous quarter.

In the morning session, the Nikkei 225 rose 2.26%, the Shanghai Composite gained 0.26% and the Hang Seng index rose 0.63%.

The Nikkei benefitted from gains for Softbank Corp. (9984.TOK) up 8.3%, after earnings at Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba--in which SoftBank owns a 37% stake--showed that profits more than doubled in 4Q to over $1.3 billion. SoftBank is a heavy weight in the Nikkei index.

Overnight, the Dow 30 rose 0.55%, the S&P 500 index rose 0.68%, while the Nasdaq index rose 0.28%.

Biotech, Internet and other tech companies plunged last week on concerns that valuations have grown too frothy after a five-year bull market fueled in part by loose monetary policies, though bottom fishing this week reversed much of the tech's losses.

On the data front, solid inflation figures offset soft housing and regional manufacturing numbers and drew applause as well, solidifying expectations that the economy is in less need of Federal Reserve stimulus measures though benchmark borrowing costs will still remain low for some time to come.

The Labor Department reported earlier that the U.S. consumer price index rose 0.2% in March, exceeding expectations for a 0.1% gain, after a 0.1% uptick the previous month.

The on-year rate rose 1.5% in March, beating estimates for a 1.4% gain though still below the Fed's 2% target.

The core consumer price index, which excludes volatile food and energy items, rose 0.2% last month, beating estimates for a 0.1% increase, after a 0.1% gain in February.

The on-year core consumer prices index rose 1,7%, beating estimates for the index to remain unchanged at 1.6%.

Elsewhere, a separate report showed that the Empire State manufacturing index fell to 1.3 for April from 5.6 in March, defying expectations for a rise to 8.2.

Separately, the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index came in at 47 for April, missing market calls for a reading of 50.

Readings below 50 mean more builders view market conditions as poor than favorable, and April's showing marked the third consecutive month of a number below that threshold.

After the close of European trade, the DJ Euro Stoxx 50 fell 1.24%, France's CAC 40 fell 0.89%, while Germany's DAX fell 1.77%. Meanwhile, in the U.K. the FTSE 100 fell 0.64%.

On Wednesday, the U.S. is to produce reports on housing starts, building permits and industrial production.