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Asian shares largely higher, BoJ stands pat on easing


Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda gestures as he speaks during a news conference in Tokyo. Photo - Reuters

Tokyo: Asian markets were largely higher on Wednesday, with Tokyo reversing early losses after the Bank of Japan said it was winning the war against deflation and delayed injecting fresh stimulus into Asia's number two economy.

The yen saw a brief rally before easing again after Japan's central bank decided to refrain from adding to its already-huge asset buying programme following a two-day policy meeting.

The dollar bought 104.37 yen, from 104.28 yen shortly before the BoJ announcement.

Wall Street provided a soft lead on its first trading day of the week on Tuesday owing to an underwhelming slate of corporate earnings and despite an upward revision of the International Monetary Fund's global growth outlook.

Tokyo closed 0.16 per cent higher on Wednesday, rising 25 points to 15,820.96, while Sydney eased 0.22 per cent, or 11.7 points, to close at 5,319.8 after the release of stronger than expected inflation data.

Seoul gained 0.33 per cent, or 6.53 points, to end at 1,970.42.

Shanghai surged 2.16 per cent, or 43.44 points, to close at 2,051.75 while Hong Kong added 0.21 per cent, or 49.13 points, to 23,082.25.

The policy board of Japan's central bank decided unanimously to refrain from adding fresh stimulus to combat deflation, with analysts expecting more easing measures later in the year after policymakers gauge the effect of an April sales tax increase.

The BoJ retained its forecast that the long-sluggish economy would expand about 2.7 per cent in the year to March, saying it "continued to recover moderately", while it also stuck with its 2.0 per cent inflation target.

In forex trade the euro fetched $1.3540 and 141.31yen against $1.3559 and 141.46 yen in late New York trade.

Chinese shares benefited from positive sentiment Wednesday after the country's central bank injected funds into the money market.

The People's Bank of China injected 255 billion yuan ($42.1 billion) worth of funds into the interbank market on Tuesday to ease a cash crunch before the Chinese New Year holiday.

"The impact of the capital injection may last for a few days, and with controls on new listings keeping the market from becoming unsustainably exuberant, investors are becoming more willing to park their money in the stock market," Zheshang Securities analyst Zhang Yanbing told Dow Jones Newswires.

US shares ended mixed as investors returned from a long holiday weekend. The Dow eased 0.27 per cent, while the S&P 500 rose 0.28 per cent and the Nasdaq added 0.67 per cent.

Economists said the first batch of earnings reports had come in below par, with fewer than usual companies beating expectations, while those that did gave mediocre outlooks.

The next major event in the United States is next week's Federal Reserve policy meeting, its first since it announced in December that it would cut its bond - buying by $10 billion a month to $75 billion.

"Although US job creation slowed markedly last month, many investors suspect that the Fed has seen enough general improvement in the US economy to dial back on stimulus, perhaps by another $10
billion to $65 billion," said Joe Manimbo, senior market analyst at Western Union Business Solutions.

There was some upbeat news, with the IMF raising its estimate for world economic growth this year to 3.7 per cent from an earlier forecast of 3.6 per cent. However, it said the rebound in advanced economies was uneven and warned of the threat of deflation.

On oil markets New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate for March delivery, was up 49 cents at $95.46 a barrel in morning trade. Brent crude for March rose 47 cents to $107.20.

Gold fetched $1,239.88 at 1106GMT compared with $1,247.89 late on Tuesday.

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