Japan's Nikkei soars as Bank of Japan meets

Japan's Nikkei soars on hopes for monetary easing as central bank meets; Europe shares down

Associated Press
Asia stock markets fall on weak US economic data
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A family shelters from the rain in front of an electronic stock indicator in Tokyo Wednesday, April 3, 2013. Asian stock markets mostly rose Wednesday, boosted by more evidence the U.S. economic recovery is gaining traction. Japan's Nikkei 225 index in Tokyo jumped 1.7 percent to 12,207.46 as a fall in the yen enticed investors back into export shares. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

BANGKOK (AP) -- Japan's benchmark stock index surged Wednesday as the country's central bank started its first policy meeting under a new governor committed to aggressive monetary action to end years of economic malaise. Elsewhere world stock markets were mixed.

Bank of Japan chief Haruhiko Kuroda has vowed to do whatever it takes to break Japan out of its debilitating deflation. Kuroda, who assumed his post March 19, has pledged to cooperate with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's program of big government spending, monetary easing and economic reforms aimed at improving Japan's competitiveness.

Optimism about the meeting's outcome sent the Nikkei 225 index in Tokyo soaring 3 percent to close at 12,362.20.

Wall Street also looked set for gains, with Dow Jones industrial futures rising 0.1 percent to 14,599 and S&P 500 futures advancing 0.2 percent to 1,566.80.

Elsewhere, however, Asian stock markets struggled to hold onto initial gains resulting from positive reports about the U.S. economy. European stocks opened lower. Britain's FTSE 100 shed 0.4 percent to 6,467.13. Germany's DAX fell 0.2 percent to 7,9.31.43. France's CAC-40 lost 0.3 percent to 3,796.06.

Some investors were skeptical about a quick fix for Japan and were acting cautiously before the policy meeting ends Thursday.

"The market is starting to moderate its expectations a bit about what might happen," said Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets in Sydney.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.1 percent to 22,337.49 after a higher open. South Korea's Kospi shed 0.2 percent to 1,983.22. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 dropped 0.6 percent to 4,957.70 after a narrowing trade deficit boosted the Australian dollar, analysts said.

A fall in the yen enticed investors back into export shares; a weaker yen helps Japanese exporters by making their products cheaper in overseas markets. Mitsubishi Motors Corp. jumped 4.3 percent. Mazda Motor Corp. advanced 6.5 percent.

U.S. government figures released Tuesday showed a better-than-expected 3 percent rise in factory orders in February, the largest increase since September. In addition, March sales reports from auto makers were solid. Those figures helped both the Dow Jones industrial average and Standard & Poor's 500 index close at record highs Tuesday.

Benchmark oil for May delivery was down 39 cents to $96.80 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract gained 12 cents to finish at $97.19 per barrel on the Nymex on Monday.

In currencies, the euro rose to $1.2831 from $1.2813 late Tuesday in New York. The dollar rose to 93.62 yen from 93.35 yen.

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