Japanese shipping companies made strong gains on Wednesday, led by Daiichi Chou Kisen Kaisha after the company said it was targeting a boom in coal exports from the US.

The Tokyo-based company said it was hoping to take advantage of an expected rise in coal exports as ultra cheap gas prices in the US have dented demand for the bulk commodity.

Saburo Koide, president of the company, said it had already received several enquiries and said Daiichi Chou planned to expand its fleet by 85 vessels to 280 by 2016 and said he expected more bulk ships to the US to transport coal to markets such as China and India, and increasingly Brazil.

Shares in Daiichi Chou jumped 19.5 per cent to Y135 and buoyed the rest of the sector in their wake. Mitsui OSK Lines, the world’s largest merchant fleet and a shareholder in Daiichi Chou, bounced 7.6 per cent to Y298, while Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha gained 6.3 per cent to Y151.

Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 Average climbed 1.1 per cent to 8,883.69, helping the FTSE Asia Pacific index rise 0.7 per cent to a four-month high of 234.89.

Technology stocks across the region were lifted after an impressive set of results from Apple in the US. The maker of iPhones and iPads reported fourth-quarter profits of $13bn, well in advance of market expectations.

Suppliers of components to Apple climbed, with South Korea’s Hynix Semiconductor up 1.9 per cent to Won27,450, while Japan’s Murata Manufacturing, which supplies capacitors, added 3.1 per cent to Y4,290.

Apple rivals were also boosted, with Samsung Electronics up 0.8 per cent to Won1,114,000. LG Electronics jumped 4.1 per cent to Won77,100. Seoul’s Kospi Composite gained 0.1 per cent to 1,952.23.

In Australia, rare earths miner Lynas Corp gained 5.1 per cent to A$1.35 after selling a convertible bond. Sydney’s S&P/ASX 200 gained 1.1 per cent to 4,271.33.

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