HONG KONG  - Asian shares were slightly up Thursday after the US Federal Reserve indicated it was leaning towards new economic stimulus efforts and manufacturing data suggested China may take similar measures.

Hopes for fresh stimulus boosts in the world's two biggest economies rallied markets after Greece called on Wednesday for more time to make spending cuts, sending European shares down, and Wall Street saw little movement overnight.

Tokyo closed up 0.51 percent, adding 46.38 points, to 9,178.12, as the yen remained firm against the dollar, while Seoul finished 0.38 percent higher, or 7.35 points up, at 1,942.54.

Sydney rose 0.17 percent, or 7.7 points, to close at 4,383.7, Hong Kong finished 1.23 percent, or 244.46 points, higher and Shanghai closed up 0.25 percent, adding 5.36 points, to 2,113.07

Dealers said Chinese shares were affected positively by HSBC's announcement that China's manufacturing activity weakened to a nine-month low in August. They suggested the data may force Beijing into beefing up economic stimulus efforts.

The preliminary reading of the HSBC purchasing managers' index (PMI), which gauges manufacturing activity, hit 47.8 this month, the lowest since last November, the British banking giant said in a statement.

"To achieve the stated policy goal of stabilising growth and the jobs market, Beijing must step up policy easing to lift infrastructure investment in the coming months," said Qu Hongbin, a Hong Kong-based economist with HSBC.

Zhang Zhiwei, an economist with Nomura International in Hong Kong, said: "Weak PMIs will likely put more pressure on the People's Bank of China to loosen monetary policy by cutting the reserve requirement ratio."

US stocks erased early losses to close mixed Wednesday after minutes of the Fed's July 31-August 1 meeting hinted it was leading towards more stimulus action "fairly soon" unless economic data turns around.

It followed heavy losses on European stock markets after Greece's Prime Minister Antonis Samaras called for more time to make spending cuts and reforms to unlock funds to keep the debt-wracked country afloat.

"All that we want is a little 'breathing space' to revive the economy quickly and raise state income. More time does not automatically mean more money," Samaras said in an interview with German daily Bild, two days before crucial talks in Germany.

Samaras met the head of the Eurogroup of eurozone finance ministers, Jean-Claude Juncker, on Wednesday ahead of a trip on Friday to Berlin to meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Samaras is then to hold talks with French President Francois Hollande on Saturday as he tries to convince European partners to extend a deadline for spending cuts to keep the floundering nation in the 17-nation eurozone.

Merkel on Wednesday dismissed the chances of agreeing to any request by Greece to amend its rescue package during the talks with Samaras.

"We wait for the report of the troika. Then we will decide," Merkel said.

As part of a rescue package with its international creditors, known as the troika, Greece has committed to slashing 11.5 billion euros ($14.3 billion) of spending over two years from 2013.

Samaras reportedly wants to discuss extending the deadline by two years.

After large falls on Wednesday European stock markets opened slightly higher Thursday, mirroring the gains in Asia.

London's benchmark FTSE 100 index of leading shares increased by 0.58 percent to 5,807.60 points, Frankfurt's DAX 30 won 0.69 percent to 7,065.99 and in Paris the CAC 40 added 0.73 percent to 3,487.14 points.

On Wednesday the Dow Jones Industrial Average finished down 30.82 points (0.23 percent) at 13,172.76. The broader S&P 500 index edged up 0.32 points to 1,413.49, while the tech-rich Nasdaq gained 6.41 points (0.21 percent) to 3,073.67.

The euro bought $1.2559 and 98.75 in Tokyo afternoon trade against $1.2522 and 98.34 yen late Wednesday in New York.

The dollar bought 78.61 yen against 78.53 yen in US trade.

In oil markets, New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in October rose 78 cents to $98.04 a barrel in the afternoon and Brent North Sea crude for October delivery gained 131 cents to $116.2.

Gold was at $1,661.33 at 1100 GMT, compared to $1,642.15 on Wednesday.

In other markets:

-- Taipei edged up 0.11 percent, or 8.59 points, to 7,505.17.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co was 0.36 percent higher at Tw$82.7 while Hon Hai Precision gained 1.16 percent at Tw$87.1.

-- Wellington rose 0.14 percent or 24.97 points to 3,658.38.

Fletcher Building was up 0.8 percent at NZ$6.37 after sharp losses Wednesday on poor annual earnings while Telecom Corp, which reports Friday, fell 0.7 percent to NZ$2.755.

-- Manila closed 0.98 percent higher, or 50.69 points, to 5,202.84.

Metropolitan Bank and Trust Co. rose 3.10 percent to 93 pesos while BDO Unibank gained 0.67 percent to 59.75 pesos.

-- Singapore closed up 0.23 percent, or 6.90 points, to 3,056.37.

Olam International fell 1.46 percent to Sg$2.03 while DBS Group gained 0.48 percent to Sg$14.65.

-- Jakarta ended up 0.05 percent, or 2.15 points, at 4,162.66.

Aneka Tambang rose 2.44 percent to 1,260 rupiah, Indosat gained 1.87 percent to 5,450 rupiah, while Astra International lost 2.74 percent to 7,100 rupiah.

-- Bangkok added 0.28 percent or 3.50 points to close at 1,237.64.

Supermarket MAKRO gained 5.22 percent to 363.00 baht, while PTT lost 1.47 percent to 334.00 baht.

-- Kuala Lumpur ended flat, losing 0.64 points or 0.04 percent, to close at 1,651.61.

Plantation giant Sime Darby shed 0.10 percent to 9.79 ringgit, while telecommunications provider DiGi.com fell 0.61 percent to 4.88. Telekom Malaysia gained 0.34 percent to 5.99 ringgit.

-- Mumbai's ended up 0.02 percent higher or 3.36 points at 17,850.22.

Reliance Industries, the country's largest private firm, fell 1.6 percent to 794.8 rupees, while software outsourcer Infosys rose 1.73 percent to 2,471.5 rupees.