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Asian shares rise, Nikkei boosted by weak yen

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Asian markets rose on Tuesday, with Japan's Nikkei index the standout performer thanks to a weaker yen, as investors moved in for cheaper stocks following the previous day's sell-off.

With US markets closed Monday for a public holiday, investors shrugged off flat Chinese economic growth figures a day earlier to send China shares higher after the country's central bank moved to ease fears of a cash crunch.

In Tokyo, the benchmark Nikkei rose 0.99 percent, or 154.28 points, to close at 15,795.96, Seoul rose 0.52 percent, or 10.11 points, to 1,963.89 and Sydney added 0.69 percent, or 36.5 points, to finish at 5,331.5.

Hong Kong added 0.45 percent, or 104.17 points, to 23,033.12 and Shanghai climbed 0.86 percent, or 17.06 points, to 2,008.31.

Markets mostly sank on Monday after China said its economy -- a key driver of regional and global growth -- expanded 7.7 percent last year, the same rate as in 2012 which was the slowest since 1999.

Gross domestic product expansion for the October-December quarter also slowed to 7.7 percent from 7.8 percent in the previous three months.

The Nikkei enjoyed a pick-up ahead of a two-day Bank of Japan policy meeting that ends on Wednesday, with some speculation that it will announce fresh measures in its stimulus programme.

The yen eased against the dollar and euro, proving support for exporters.

In afternoon trade the dollar was at 104.71 yen against 104.10 yen in London late Monday, while the euro fetched 141.72 yen compared with 141.19 yen. The euro was also at $1.3533 from $1.3563.

CLSA equity strategist Nicholas Smith said there were rumours the BoJ might make an announcement on Wednesday regarding its asset-purchasing programme.

However, he told Dow Jones Newswires that "any additional easing measures aren't likely until around the time of the April consumption-tax hike which is when they would be the most effective".

In Shanghai, shares advanced after the central People's Bank of China said late Monday that it had provided short-term liquidity to some large commercial banks to avert a cash crunch as investors gear up for a flood of new stock listings that many fear could lead to a share glut.

The central bank also injected 255 billion yuan ($41.8 billion) worth of funds into the interbank market on Tuesday.

In oil trade US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for delivery in February was up six cents at $94.43 a barrel, while Brent crude for March reversed earlier losses to climb 65 cents to $107.00.

Gold fetched $1,251.55 at 0820 GMT compared with $1,254.61 late Monday.

In other markets:

-- Taipei fell 0.25 percent, or 21.66 points, to 8,599.9.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co was 0.93 percent lower at Tw$106.5 while leading chip design house MediaTek shed 5.37 percent at Tw$388.0.

-- Wellington was up 0.64 percent, or 31.18 points, at 4,921.67.

Fletcher Building was up 1.46 percent at NZ$9.06, and clothing retailer Hallenstein Glasson Holdings surged 7.1 percent on bargain-hunting to close at NZ$3.48. Chorus ended down 4.9 percent at NZ$1.465.

-- Manila closed 0.23 percent higher, adding 13.64 points to finish at 6,019.24.

Philippine Long Distance Telephone climbed 2.52 percent to 2,762.00 pesos, BDO Unibank was 2.21 percent up at 73.90 pesos and Metropolitan Bank was 0.98 percent higher at 77.40 pesos.

dan-erf/jom/sm

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/140121/asian-shares-rise-nikkei-boosted-weak-yen-1