Asian markets mostly up, Tokyo soars on weaker yen

Asian markets mostly up, Tokyo soars on weaker yen

HONG KONG - Asian markets mostly rose Wednesday following big losses in the previous session, with Tokyo surging as the yen tumbled after Bank of Japan governor Masaaki Shirakawa said he will step down early.

Traders also took a lead from Wall Street and Europe, where encouraging economic data offset concerns over political uncertainty in Spain and Italy.

Tokyo soared 3.37 per cent, or 416.83 points, to 11,463.75 - its highest close since September 2008 soon after the collapse of US bank Lehman Brothers and at the height of the financial crisis.

Sydney climbed 0.78 per cent, or 38.3 points, to 4,921.0 and Hong Kong added 0.47 per cent, or 108.40 points, to 23,256.93, while Shanghai ended flat, edging up 1.35 points to 2,434.48. But Seoul lost 1.99 points to close at 1,936.19.

Wellington was closed for a public holiday.

Japanese foreign exchange traders welcomed Shirakawa's announcement that he would step down on March 19, about three weeks before the end of his term.

It fuelled expectations that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will likely fill the post with someone who shares his ideas on aggressive monetary easing that would see more yen pumped into the economy.

The Japanese currency tumbled in New York. By the end of trade on Tuesday the dollar bought 93.61 yen and the euro was at 127.13 yen, compared with 92.28 yen and 124.67 yen earlier in the day in Tokyo.

In afternoon Tokyo trade on Wednesday the dollar bought 93.70 yen and the euro fetched 126.90 yen.

Yen "weakness has resumed with a vengeance", National Australia Bank said.

The euro was also at $1.3522, compared with $1.3582 in New York and much stronger than the $1.3489 Tuesday in Tokyo.

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