Asian shares recouped losses across the board on Wednesday, mirroring the "correction" rally on Wall Street, though gains were in a modest range and most benchmarks fell back after opening sharply higher.

Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 index surged as soon as trading began as investors sought bargains, finishing morning trading up 3.1 per cent at 22,270.56. South Korea's Kospi, which saw only modest losses on Tuesday, fell back by midday, losing 0.7 per cent to 2,435.05.

The Nikkei 225 tumbled as much as 7.1 per cent on Tuesday before regaining some lost ground to close 4.7 per cent lower.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 was up 1.0 per cent at 5,889.60. Hong Kong's Hang Seng jumped 1.2 per cent to 30,953.48, while the Shanghai Composite gained 0.1 per cent to 3,376.36.

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U.S. stocks rallied Tuesday as a late surge helped them regain almost half their losses from the day before, when they had their biggest plunge in 6 ½ years amid heavy trading and huge swings for the market.

Major indexes in Asia and Europe sank Tuesday and U.S. markets started sharply lower, zigzagging between gains and losses. After its 1,175-point nosedive Monday, the Dow Jones industrial average lost 567 points right after trading began but eventually gained 567 points, adding 2.3 per cent to 24,912.77.

"While today would be crucial in seeing if the bulls can wrestle back control for Asian markets, it does appear that we have finally entered a period of increased volatility," says Jingyi Pan, market strategist at IG in Singapore.

"This increased volatility had been one that the market was anticipating at the start of the year, but certainly took its time to arrive and may retain a spot in the market after this week's tumultuous turn."

Tuesday was the busiest day of trading on the New York Stock Exchange since November 10, 2016, two days after the presidential election.

Throughout the turbulence, investors bought companies that do well when economic growth is strongest. Gainers included technology companies, retailers like Amazon and Home Depot, and industrial companies and banks.

Bond yields reversed after a sharp drop Monday. As a result, the biggest losses went to high-dividend companies such as utility and real estate companies whose stocks become less appealing than bonds to investors seeking income. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.80 per cent from 2.71 per cent.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index, a broader market barometer tracked by many index funds, climbed 1.7 per cent to 2,695.14. The Nasdaq composite rose 2.1 per cent to 7,115.88.

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The steep drops Friday and Monday wiped out the gains the Dow and S&P 500 had made since the beginning of the year. But the Dow is up 24 per cent in the past 12 months the S&P 500 has gained 18 per cent.

After Tuesday's rebound the S&P 500 is still down 6.2 per cent from the record high it set on January 26. That's less than the 10 per cent seen as a correction. Corrections are seen as entirely normal and even helpful in curbing excessive gains during bull markets. The last market correction ended almost two years ago.

Investors remain fearful that signs of rising inflation and higher interest rates could stifle the bull market that has pushed stocks to record high after record high in recent years.

Also Wednesday, U.S. crude oil added 60 cents to $63.99 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It fell 76 cents, or 1.2 per cent, to close at $63.39 a barrel in New York Tuesday. Brent crude, the benchmark for international oil prices, rose 54 cents to $67.40 a barrel in London.

In currency trading, the dollar fell to 109.32 yen from 109.54 yen late Tuesday. The euro was trading at $1.2384.

On Monday, the Dow finished down 4.6 per cent, the biggest decline in percentage terms since August 2011, when investors were fretting over Europe's debt crisis and the debt ceiling impasse in Washington that prompted a U.S. credit rating downgrade.

- AP