Asian markets rise in quiet trade

PHOTO: Asian markets rise in quiet trade

HONG KONG - Asian markets rose in holiday-thinned trade on Tuesday, with Tokyo given a boost by a weaker yen while Sydney was at almost three-year highs as dealers grow confident in the global economic outlook.

With several regional markets still closed for Lunar New Year celebrations, trading was quiet, while dealers look ahead to a meeting of the Group of 20 top economic power at the end of the week.

Tokyo surged 2.43 per cent, Sydney added 0.17 per cent and Seoul gained 0.10 per cent.

Hong Kong, Shanghai, Taipei, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur were closed for public holidays.

Japanese shares were the big gainers as the yen tumbled against the dollar in New York on Monday after US Treasury official Lael Brainard praised Tokyo's efforts to boost growth and counter deflation.

Analysts say his comments indicate Washington will not support any criticism of Japan's recent monetary easing measures at the G20 meeting on Friday.

Tokyo's recent moves have stoked fears, especially in Europe, of a currency war between the major economies as policymakers seek to devalue their currencies to make exports more competitive.

The dollar stood at 94.28 yen(S$1.30) in early Asian trade, from 94.33 yen in New York late Monday.

The euro fetched US$1.3403(S$1.64) and 126.36 yen, compared with US$1.3404 and 126.42 yen.

"(The dollar/yen) is back in the 94-yen levels," Yoshihiro Okumura, general manager of research at Chibagin Asset Management, told Dow Jones Newswires.

"This is going to give a tailwind."

There was little direction from Wall Street, where the Dow fell 0.16 per cent and the S&P 500 and Nasdaq ended flat.

In electronic oil trading New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in March, was down 15 cents to US$96.88 a barrel in the morning, while Brent North Sea crude for March was up nine cents to US$118.22.

Gold was at US$1,643.10 at 0100 GMT.