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Asian markets mostly up, dollar nears 100 yen

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Asian markets mostly climbed on Monday, with Tokyo surging as the dollar pushes back towards the 100 yen mark after the G20 cautiously endorsed the Bank of Japan's huge stimulus measures.

Chinese shares dipped, however, as insurers suffered a sell-off after an earthquake struck Sichuan province, leaving more than 200 dead or missing and destroying villages.

Tokyo surged 1.94 percent by the break, Hong Kong added 0.14 percent, Sydney rose 0.34 percent and Seoul was 0.15 percent higher but Shanghai slipped 0.23 percent.

The yen added to gains made in New York on Friday after the Group of 20 economic powers agreed that Japan's huge monetary easing measures unveiled this month were necessary to boost the country's stagnant economy.

In a statement following their meeting in Washington, G20 finance chiefs said the policy actions "are intended to stop deflation and support domestic demand".

Many countries, including the United States, have expressed concern that Japan could be deliberately trying to force the yen lower to boost exports and cut imports via "competitive devaluation".

But the G20, which includes both the United States and Japan, called for more efforts to stimulate "strong, sustainable and balanced" growth globally, and took note of Japan's efforts towards that.

The dollar jumped in New York to 99.52 yen, from 98.23 yen the previous day. In early Asian trade it stood at 99.81 yen. The greenback is expected soon to break the 100 yen barrier, a level it has not seen since April 2009.

The euro fetched $1.3060 and 130.30 yen, against $1.3057 and 129.94 yen.

"The G20 effectively gave the green light for further yen weakness by supporting the aggressive easing by the Bank of Japan," National Australia Bank said in a note.

"However, the G20 did add that it would like to see Japan also detail the structural reforms it can take to further boost growth."

On Wall Street, the Dow ended flat, the S&P 500 jumped 0.88 percent and the Nasdaq added 1.25 percent.

In Shanghai, insurance firms weighed on the market after Saturday's quake, which flattened thousands of houses.

Ping An and China Life were among the losers, although construction companies were up slightly on speculation of short-term construction work.

Oil was higher. New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in May, added 29 cents to $88.30 a barrel and Brent North Sea crude for June delivery gained 28 cents to $99.93.

An ounce of gold fetched $1,420.15 at 0245 GMT, compared with $1,414.20 late Friday.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130421/asian-markets-mostly-dollar-nears-100-yen