Asian shares were mixed Thursday, with Tokyo again lifted by the yen's continued weakness but pessimism lingered about the prospects for a US fiscal cliff deal by the year-end deadline.
The Nikkei 225 index at the Tokyo Stock Exchange, which rose 1.49 percent to hit a nine-month high in the previous session, climbed another 1.37 percent by the afternoon.
The dollar rose to its highest level in more than two years against the yen overnight as Shinzo Abe was sworn in as prime minister, raising expectations that the Bank of Japan would initiate more monetary easing under his leadership.
Hong Kong gained 0.41 percent and Sydney was up 0.27 percent but Shanghai was down 0.42 percent while Seoul fell 0.27 percent.
US stocks fell overnight on continued uncertainty on whether a deal to avert the fiscal cliff -- a series of steep tax hikes and spending cuts worth some $600 billion due to take effect in January -- could be reached by the month-end.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 0.19 percent to finish the session at 13,114.59.
The broad-market S&P 500 lost 6.83 points (0.48 percent) at 1,419.83, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite shed 22.44 points (0.74 percent) at 2,990.16.
US lawmakers are set to return to the negotiating table after Christmas holidays in a last-ditch effort to reach a deal, with experts warning that going over the cliff could drive the world's biggest economy back into recession.
The Treasury Department said Wednesday the government would hit its legal borrowing limit by Monday, setting in motion emergency measures to keep the government operating for several more weeks.
The Treasury's manoeuvring is designed to put off until February or March the prospect of a full-blown debt crisis, indicating that the US budget wrangling could continue well into 2013.
But despite those concerns, the dollar maintained its overnight gains, hovering around 85.66 yen in early Asian trade, almost unchanged from New York Wednesday afternoon.
The euro fetched 113.25 yen and $1.3226 compared with 113.19 yen and $1.3223.
Oil prices were lower, with New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in February falling eight cents to $90.92 a barrel and Brent North Sea crude for February delivery shedding a cent to $111.06.
Gold was at $1,657.55 at 0230 GMT compared with $1,658.10 late Wednesday.