Economic reports on Wednesday were mixed.
In the US, housing starts fell 3.0 percent in November. However, building permits rose 3.6 percent to an 899,000 annual rate, the most since July 2008.
In another positive sign for US construction activity, the American Institute of Architects reported that its billings index rose to 53.2 in November, the highest level in five years.
In Japan, exports fell 4.1 percent in November from the previous year, but this was better than the 5.5 percent decline expected and the 6.5 percent contraction in October.
Also, Japan's leading index for October has been revised up to 92.8 from 92.5. In September, the index was at 91.8. The coincident index was revised up to 90.7 from 90.6 but remained lower than the 91.3 reading in September.