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Asian shares mixed as Wall St-led rebound fizzles

Asian markets were mixed on Wednesday, with a rally on Wall Street giving Tokyo the impetus to claw back some of its losses in the previous session.

HONG KONG: Asian markets were mixed on Wednesday, with a rally on Wall Street giving Tokyo the impetus to claw back some of its losses in the previous session.

However the dollar slipped against the yen as investors remain on edge about the global economy, following a series of disappointing economic data and the Federal Reserve's decision to reduce its stimulus programme.

Tokyo's Nikkei, which slumped more than four per cent on Tuesday, rose 1.23 per cent or 171.91 points to 14,180.38. The index was boosted by a surge in Panasonic after the computer giant said it had swung back into profit.

Seoul rose 0.24 per cent, or 4.47 points, to 1,891.32 but Sydney lost 0.53 per cent, or 26.8 points, to close at 5,070.3. Hong Kong fell 0.60 per cent, or 128.39 points, to 21,269.38 as it reversed initial gains.

Shanghai was closed for a public holiday.

Markets around the world have been sent into a tailspin in recent days following worse than expected manufacturing activity data from China and the United States, suggesting softness in the global economy.

But Wall Street's three main indices, which each saw losses of more than two percent at the start of the week, rebounded slightly Tuesday on bargain buying and solid corporate results, including from fast food giant Yum Foods and fashion retailer Michael Kors.

The Dow rose 0.47 per cent, the S&P 500 added 0.76 per cent and the Nasdaq climbed 0.86 per cent.

Eyes are now on the release Friday of US non-farm payrolls data, which will give investors a better handle on the state of the world's number two economy.

Last month's results, showing the number of jobs created in December was less than half that expected, jolted markets as it suggested the economy was not as strong as expected just as the Fed began tapering its bond-buying stimulus.

On currency markets the dollar fell to 101.15 yen from 101.64 yen in New York Tuesday. The greenback is well down from the five-year highs above 105 yen touched at the start of the year.

The euro bought $1.3515 and 136.73 yen against $1.3515 and 137.36 yen.

Despite the stronger yen Japanese shares were higher, bolstered by a 19 per cent jump in Panasonic.

The electronics firm -- recovering from combined losses topping $15 billion in the past two fiscal years -- said Tuesday its nine-month net earnings came in at 243.0 billion yen, reversing a net loss of 623.8 billion yen over the same period a year earlier.

Oil prices were higher. US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for March delivery rose 54 cents to $97.73 in afternoon trade while Brent North Sea crude for March added 27 cents to $106.05.

Gold fetched $1,256.50 an ounce at 0820 GMT, compared with $1,253.47 late Tuesday.

In other markets:

-- Taipei tumbled 2.34 per cent, or 198.09 points, to 8,264.48 in the first trading session following a week-long Lunar New Year holiday.

-- Wellington edged up 0.11 per cent, or 5.32 points, to 4,807.94.

-- Manila climbed 0.38 per cent, or 22.40 points, to 5,908.41.

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