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Asian markets mostly down, Tokyo extends losses

Asian markets were mostly down Wednesday, in spite of a Wall Street rally, with Tokyo extending the previous day's fall as the yen strengthened following a Bank of Japan monetary policy shift.

Tokyo's Nikkei fell 2.08 percent, or 222.94 points to 10,486.99 and Seoul closed 0.81 percent lower, losing 16.11 points to 1,980.41, but Sydney rose 0.18 percent, or 8.7 points, to 4,787.8.

Hong Kong eased 0.10 percent, shedding 23.89 points to 23,635.10 and Shanghai ended up 0.25 percent, or 5.77 points, at 2,320.91 thanks to a late rally.

Japan's Nikkei was hit after the central bank said Tuesday it would fall into line with the new government and set a two percent inflation target, while also launching an unlimited asset-buying scheme from next year.

The bank also lifted its growth forecast, predicting gross domestic product would expand 2.3 percent in the year ended March 2014, up from an earlier 1.6 percent estimate.

But the BoJ moves were in line with expectations, which have seen the yen tumble against the dollar and euro, in turn sending equities flying higher.

"The BoJ monetary policy announcement came so completely within range of market expectations that it rang as a disappointment," SMBC Nikko Securities general manager of equities Hiroichi Nishi told Dow Jones Newswires.

The yen began rising soon after Tuesday's announcement and rose further in New York trade. However, it stabilised in Tokyo early Wednesday.

The greenback -- which hit a two-and-a-half-year high of 90.24 yen before the BoJ move -- bought 88.36 yen in afternoon trade, against 88.68 yen in New York on Tuesday.

The euro -- which topped 120 yen last week -- also slipped to 117.53 yen Wednesday, from 118.14 yen in New York and to $1.3298 from $1.3321.

Regional markets were largely unaffected by healthy gains on Wall Street Tuesday following a long weekend, thanks to stronger-than-expected earnings results, including from The Travelers Companies and DuPont.

The Dow rose 0.46 percent, the S&P 500 added 0.44 percent and the Nasdaq ended up 0.27 percent.

Oil prices were slightly up, with New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in March, up two cents to $96.70 a barrel and Brent North Sea crude for March delivery up three cents to $112.45.

Gold was at $1,691.66 at 1100 GMT compared with $1,692.41 late Tuesday.

In other markets:

-- Wellington was flat, edging up 0.64 points to 4,187.72.

Telecom fell 2.1 percent to NZ$2.32 and Fletcher Building rose 0.5 percent to NZ$9.34, while Air New Zealand was unchanged at NZ$1.24.

-- Manila fell 0.20 percent, or 12.37 points, to 6,092.53.

-- Taipei fell 0.19 percent, or 14.92 points, to 7,744.18.

Hon Hai Precision was 0.47 percent lower at Tw$85.0, while HTC shed 2.07 percent at Tw$283.5.

-- Singapore closed up 0.35 percent, or 11.37 points, to 3,231.23.

Real estate developer Capitaland gained 0.52 percent to Sg$3.89 and Singapore Airlines gained 1.28 percent to Sg$11.10.

-- Kuala Lumpur gained 6.59 points, or 0.40 percent, to close at 1,635.25.

Public Bank added 0.6 percent to 15.70 ringgit, and Kuala Lumpur Kepong rose 0.5 percent to 21.80. UEM Land Holdings fell 0.5 percent to 2.14 ringgit.

Jakarta closed up 2.18 points, or 0.05 percent, at 4,418.73.

-- Bank Negara Indonesia rose 1.32 percent to 3,850 rupiah and mobile phone provider Indosat climbed 0.75 percent to 6,700 rupiah, while palm oil producer Astra Agro Lestari slipped 0.26 percent to 19,250 rupiah.

Bangkok added 0.36 percent or 5.11 points to 1,439.20.

-- Airports of Thailand jumped 7.58 percent to 106.50 baht, while telecoms firm True Corp. gained 2.61 percent to 5.90 baht.

-- Mumbai was up 0.23 percent, or 45.04 points, to 20,026.61.