Asian markets mixed as US stocks surge

Asian markets were mixed Wednesday despite a strong lead from Wall Street as investors awaited the outcome of the first Bank of Japan policy meeting under new leadership committed to aggressive measures to stoke growth.

Tokyo stocks were 1.70 percent higher by the break and Shanghai was up 0.14 percent but Hong Kong was down 0.26 percent, Sydney fell 0.59 percent and Seoul lost 0.44 percent.

Investors were focusing on the outcome of a two-day policy meeting of the Bank of Japan starting Wednesday to see if fresh easing measures aimed at boosting the world's third biggest econony meet market expectations.

The new head of the BoJ, Haruhiko Kuroda, has vowed "bold" monetary easing, while the bank in January set a two percent inflation target aimed at pulling the troubled economy out of its damaging deflationary spiral.

"Given near-constant chatter about the need for bold policy action to achieve their 2.0% inflation target, any underwhelming policy response, something they're notorious for, will see the yen strengthen to the detriment of the Nikkei," David Scutt, Treasury dealer at Arab Bank wrote in a note to clients.

"At the very least, markets will want to see unlimited easing involving a variety of asset classes with a focus of achieving the inflation target in the near-to-medium term," he said, according to Dow Jones Newswires.

US stocks reached fresh highs Tuesday on solid manufacturing orders data and strong results from US automakers, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average closing at an all-time record high of 14,662.01, up 89.16 or 0.61 percent.

The dollar was at 93.30 yen in early Asian trade Wednesday against 93.39 yen in New York late Tuesday.

The euro remained weak following the release Tuesday of poor manufacturing and jobs data for the eurozone, buying $1.2817 and 119.66 yen against $1.2813 and 119.70 yen in US trade.

On a positive note, Cyprus has been given two more years, until 2018, to meet the conditions of a 10 billion-euro bailout under a final agreement with eurozone lenders, giving the island nation a bit more breathing room.

Oil was down in Asia, with New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in May, shedding 57 cents to $96.62 a barrel and Brent North Sea crude for May delivery dropping 45 cents to $110.24.

Gold was at $1,568.30 an ounce at 0455 GMT compared with $1,597.83 late on Tuesday.