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Asian stocks broadly higher, profit-takers hit Tokyo

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Asian markets were mostly higher on Thursday as investors took a breather after a rally at the start of the week, but Tokyo suffered a mild sell-off on profit-taking and a stronger yen.

Hopes that the United States and Russia will be able to make a deal that will avoid a US-led military strike on Syria provided buying support as markets await fresh trading cues.

Tokyo dipped 0.26 percent, or 37.80 points, to 14,387.27. Seoul ended flat, edging up just 0.21 points to 2,004.06, and Sydney added 0.15 percent, or 8.1 points, close to a five-year high of 5,242.5.

Shanghai ended 0.64 percent higher, adding 14.34 points to 2,255.61, while in the afternoon Hong Kong was almost unchanged.

Global markets have been buoyant over the past week following the release of strong data out of China indicating an economic slowdown has come to an end, while Japanese growth is also showing signs of perking up.

Japan's Nikkei fell as investors cashed in after a more than four percent rally since Monday that was fuelled by an upward revision in April-June economic growth and Tokyo's successful bid to host the 2020 Olympics.

Exporters were also sold as the yen rebounded against the dollar. The greenback, which peaked at 100.60 yen on Wednesday, suffered a sell-off.

The dollar fell to 99.35 yen, compared with 99.92 yen late in New York and well off the 100.50 yen seen on Wednesday in Tokyo. The euro fetched $1.3305 and 132.20 yen against $1.3314 and 133.03 yen in US trade.

Investors are hoping the United States and Russia will be able to reach a deal that will see Syria hand over its chemical weapons and avert an attack from American forces.

US Secretary of State John Kerry is due to meet his Russian counterpart in Geneva as the two sides seek a diplomatic solution to the crisis, which was sparked by the Assad regime's alleged use of chemical weapons on its own civilians.

Global markets were recently sent into a tailspin on expectations the US would lead a strike, which analysts feared could have led to a wider Middle East conflict.

Wall Street provided a mostly positive lead, with the Dow up 0.89 percent and the S&P 500 rising 0.31 percent. However, the tech-driven Nasdaq dipped 0.11 percent, dragged down by a 5.4 percent loss for Apple as investors were left unimpressed by its latest iPhone release.

Attention will now turn to Washington and next week's Federal Reserve policy meeting, where board members are expected to decide on the future of the bank's huge stimulus programme.

Market consensus is that the Fed will begin to wind down the $85 billion-a-month bond-buying as the US economy shows signs of strengthening.

However, a weaker-than-forecast jobs report last week has sparked speculation that the bank will only reduce its buying by about $10 billion a month.

On oil markets New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate for delivery in October, rose three cents to $107.59 a barrel, while Brent North Sea crude for October added 16 cents to $111.66.

Gold cost $1,354.90 an ounce at 0700 GMT compared with $1,361.73 late Wednesday.

In other markets:

-- Taipei rose 0.20 percent, or 16.37 points, to 8,225.36.

Smartphone maker HTC rose 4.44 percent to Tw$141.0 while Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. fell 0.96 percent to Tw$103.5.

-- Wellington rose 0.14 percent, or 6.60 points, to 4,641.49.

Auckland International Airport was up 2.37 percent at NZ$3.25 and clothing store Hallenstein Glasson gained 2.1 percent to NZ$4.90.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130912/asian-stocks-broadly-higher-profit-takers-hit-tokyo