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Asian shares mainly higher, BoJ stands pat on easing

Asian markets were mainly higher on Wednesday, with Tokyo reversing early losses after the Bank of Japan said it was winning the war against deflation and delayed injecting fresh stimulus into Asia's number two economy.

HONG KONG: Asian markets were mainly higher on Wednesday, with Tokyo reversing early losses after the Bank of Japan said it was winning the war against deflation and delayed injecting fresh stimulus into Asia's number two economy.

The yen saw a brief rally before easing again after Japan's central bank decided to refrain from adding to its already-huge asset buying programme following a two-day policy meeting.

The dollar bought 104.37 yen, from 104.28 yen shortly before the BoJ announcement.

Wall Street provided a soft lead on its first trading day of the week on Tuesday owing to an underwhelming slate of corporate earnings and despite an upward revision of the International Monetary Fund's global growth outlook.

Tokyo closed 0.16 percent higher on Wednesday, rising 25 points to 15,820.96, while Sydney eased 0.22 percent, or 11.7 points, to close at 5,319.8 after the release of stronger than expected inflation data.

Seoul gained 0.33 percent, or 6.53 points, to end at 1,970.42.

Shanghai surged 2.16 percent, or 43.44 points, to close at 2,051.75, while Hong Kong added 0.21 percent, or 49.13 points, to 23,082.25.

The policy board of Japan's central bank decided unanimously to refrain from adding fresh stimulus to combat deflation, with analysts expecting more easing measures later in the year after policymakers gauge the effect of an April sales tax increase.

The BoJ retained its forecast that the long-sluggish economy would expand about 2.7 percent in the year to March, saying it "continued to recover moderately", while it also stuck with its 2.0 percent inflation target.

In forex trade, the euro fetched $1.3540 and 141.31 yen against $1.3559 and 141.46 yen in late New York trade.

Chinese shares benefited from positive sentiment on Wednesday after the country's central bank injected funds into the money market.

The People's Bank of China injected 255 billion yuan ($42.1 billion) worth of funds into the interbank market on Tuesday to ease a cash crunch before the Chinese New Year holiday.

"The impact of the capital injection may last for a few days, and with controls on new listings keeping the market from becoming unsustainably exuberant, investors are becoming more willing to park their money in the stock market," Zheshang Securities analyst Zhang Yanbing told Dow Jones Newswires.

US shares ended mixed as investors returned from a long holiday weekend. The Dow eased 0.27 percent, while the S&P 500 rose 0.28 percent and the Nasdaq added 0.67 percent.

Economists said the first batch of earnings reports had come in below par, with fewer than usual companies beating expectations, while those that did gave mediocre outlooks.

The next major event in the United States is next week's Federal Reserve policy meeting, its first since it announced in December that it would cut its bond-buying by $10 billion a month to $75 billion.

"Although US job creation slowed markedly last month, many investors suspect that the Fed has seen enough general improvement in the US economy to dial back on stimulus, perhaps by another $10 billion to $65 billion," said Joe Manimbo, senior market analyst at Western Union Business Solutions.

There was some upbeat news, with the IMF raising its estimate for world economic growth this year to 3.7 percent from an earlier forecast of 3.6 percent. However, it said the rebound in advanced economies was uneven and warned of the threat of deflation.

On oil markets, New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate for March delivery, was up 49 cents at $95.46 a barrel in morning trade. Brent crude for March rose 47 cents to $107.20.

Gold fetched $1,239.88 at 1106 GMT compared with $1,247.89 late Tuesday.

In other markets:

-- Jakarta closed up 0.56 percent, or 24.99 points, at 4,477.45.
Carmaker Astra International rose 0.74 percent to 6,800 rupiah, while state miner Aneka Tambang fell 0.93 percent to 1,070 rupiah.

-- Bangkok fell 0.20 percent, or 2.61 points, to 1,290.49.
Siam Cement gained 0.50 percent to 402.00 baht, while Airports of Thailand dropped 1.84 percent to 160.00 baht.

-- Singapore was flat, easing only 0.02 of a point to close at 3,133.74.
Real estate developer Capitaland gained 0.35 percent to S$2.90 while DBS Bank was down 1.27 percent to S$17.15.

-- Kuala Lumpur lost 1.24 points, or 0.07 percent, to close at 1,814.10.
Financial firm CIMB Group Holdings shed 1.4 percent to 7.01 ringgit, while UEM Sunrise eased 2.4 percent to 2.07. Palm oil producer Felda Global Ventures Holdings gained 2.3 percent to 4.47 ringgit.

-- Taipei rose 25.40 points, or 0.30 percent, to 8,625.3.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co was 0.94 percent higher at T$107.5 while leading chip design house MediaTek gained 2.84 percent to T$399.0

-- Wellington was up 0.58 percent, or 28.67 points, at 4,950.34.
Telecom Corp rose 0.42 percent to NZ$2.39 while Fletcher Building gained 1.10 percent to NZ$9.16.

-- Manila rose 2.00 percent, or 120.62 points, to 6,139.86.
Philippine Long Distance Telephone rose 1.23 percent to 2,796.00 pesos and SM Investments added 1.28 percent to 712.00 pesos, while Ayala Land was 3.0 percent up at 27.50 pesos.

-- Mumbai gained 0.41 percent, or 86.55 points, to 21,337.67.

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