Asian markets mixed, Nikkei dips on profit-taking

Asian markets mixed, Nikkei dips on profit-taking

HONG KONG - Asian markets began the week on a mixed note Monday, with the Nikkei sinking on profit-taking after breaking 11,000 in early trade, while a rally on Wall Street boosted a buying incentive.

The euro and dollar eased slightly against the yen after climbing in New York trade, while traders took heart from upbeat news from Europe, with indications that the troubled eurozone is slowly emerging from years of crisis.

Tokyo surged above the 11,000 mark for the first time since April 2010 in the morning as the yen extended its recent downward trend but profit-taking soon took hold and the index ended down 0.94 per cent, or 102.34 points, at 10,824.31.

Seoul dipped 0.36 per cent, or 6.98 points, to 1,939.71, while Hong Kong added 0.39 per cent, or 91.45 points, to end at 23,671.88.

Shanghai surged 2.41 per cent, or 55.21 points, to 2,346.51 after authorities said they would expand the number of securities for margin trading, boosting liquidity hopes.

Sydney and Kuala Lumpur were closed for public holidays.

On currency markets the dollar bought 90.81 yen in early Asian trade, from 90.87 yen in New York late Friday, while the euro was at 122.10 yen from 122.28 yen. The euro also bought $1.3440 from $1.3457 in New York.

Apart from a short-lived rally last week, the yen has seen a continued downtrend since November, when as Japan's opposition leader Shinzo Abe promised to push for a more aggressive easing of monetary policy.

Abe won a general election last month on that promise and after becoming prime minister has pressured the central bank to follow his government's policy lead, a move that has been welcomed by markets.

Last week the Bank of Japan adopted a two-per cent inflation target and set out plans for indefinite monetary easing.

The euro was also lifted by data Friday showing banks rushing to repay part of emergency funding totalling US$1.3 trillion provided by the European Central Bank a year ago to get them through a credit crunch.

ECB chief Mario Draghi told the World Economic Forum in Davos that he saw a new-found tranquillity in financial markets and said "all the indices point to a substantial improvement of financial conditions".

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