Asian markets rise in quiet trade

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People walk by an electric stock price display of a securities firm in Tokyo Monday, Feb. 4, 2013. AP FILE PHOTO

Hong Kong—Asian markets rose in holiday-thinned trade on Tuesday, with Tokyo given a boost by a weaker yen while Sydney was at almost three-year highs as dealers grow confident in the global economic outlook.

With several regional markets still closed for Lunar New Year celebrations, trading was quiet, while dealers look ahead to a meeting of the Group of 20 top economic power at the end of the week.

Tokyo surged 2.43 percent, Sydney added 0.17 percent and Seoul gained 0.10 percent.

Hong Kong, Shanghai, Taipei, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur were closed for public holidays.

Japanese shares were the big gainers as the yen tumbled against the dollar in New York on Monday after US Treasury official Lael Brainard praised Tokyo’s efforts to boost growth and counter deflation.

Analysts say his comments indicate Washington will not support any criticism of Japan’s recent monetary easing measures at the G20 meeting on Friday.

Tokyo’s recent moves have stoked fears, especially in Europe, of a currency war between the major economies as policymakers seek to devalue their currencies to make exports more competitive.

The dollar stood at 94.28 yen in early Asian trade, from 94.33 yen in New York late Monday.

The euro fetched $1.3403 and 126.36 yen, compared with $1.3404 and 126.42 yen.

“[The dollar/yen] is back in the 94-yen levels,” Yoshihiro Okumura, general manager of research at Chibagin Asset Management, told Dow Jones Newswires. “This is going to give a tailwind.”

There was little direction from Wall Street, where the Dow fell 0.16 percent and the S&P 500 and Nasdaq ended flat.

In electronic oil trading New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in March, was down 15 cents to $96.88 a barrel in the morning, while Brent North Sea crude for March was up nine cents to $118.22.

Gold was at $1,643.10 at 0100 GMT.

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