Asian markets mostly rise, while yen sinks further

Asian markets climbed on Friday following another record-breaking close for Wall Street's Dow Jones index, while Tokyo rose for a seventh straight session thanks to a weakening yen.

The Japanese currency fell to a three-and-a-half-year low against the dollar and also sank against the euro as investors look to the Bank of Japan's next policy meeting, on expectations of a further loosening of monetary policy.

Tokyo jumped 2.10 percent by the break, Hong Kong was 0.96 percent higher, Sydney gained 0.31 percent and Seoul was up 0.10 percent.

Shanghai added 0.16 percent soon after data showed China's exports had surged more than 20 percent in February, while imports had tumbled 15 percent.

In New York the Dow ended at an all-time high for the third straight session, with analysts saying the market's stellar performance had attracted more buyers.

The Dow ended 0.23 percent higher after breaking on Tuesday its previous record set in October 2007. The S&P 500 was up 0.18 percent and the Nasdaq climbed 0.30 percent.

Adding to buying pressure was another batch of upbeat data.

New claims for US unemployment benefits fell to 340,000, suggesting modest strength in the jobs market in the week before the "sequester" of $85 billion in deep federal budget cuts kicked in on March 1.

The report, which came a day after figures showed a rise in jobs growth in the private sector, boosted confidence that Friday's much-watched US payroll and unemployment data would be strong.

Japanese shares enjoyed another bump as the yen resumed its downward trend, with investors betting that the man expected to take over at the BoJ will introduce more aggressive easing at his first policy meeting next month.

The dollar was changing hands at 95.05 yen in early trade, against 94.83 yen yen late Thursday in New York, where it peaked at one point at 95.10 yen -- its highest since August 2009.

The euro also advanced against the yen after also enjoying a surge in US trade. On Friday it was buying 124.33 yen, compared with 124.28 yen, and well up from 122.06 yen Thursday in Tokyo.

The single currency was also at $1.3097, from $1.3107.

There was also some good news on the economy front for Tokyo, with data showing the country had emerged from recession. Gross domestic product expanded 0.2 percent on an annualised basis in the three months to December, improving from a 0.1 percent contraction.

Oil prices fell, with New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in April easing 17 cents to $91.39 a barrel and Brent North Sea crude for April delivery dipping 33 cents to $110.82.

Gold was at $1,576.50 at 0235 GMT compared with $1,581.45 late Thursday.