Asian Markets Outside Japan Trade Higher, Nikkei Falls on Profit-Taking

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By Geetha Pillai | February 13, 2013 3:32 PM EST

A television screen shows Japan's PM Abe attending the lower house budget committee session behind screens showing exchange rates and the Nikkei stock average, in Tokyo.

Asian markets mostly traded in the positive territory except Nikkei where exporters turned to profit-taking as the yen gained against the dollar and other major currencies.

The Japanese currency gained against all 16 major peers following comments from a G7 official that the group was concerned about the excess movements in the yen. Japan's Nikkei 225 Stock Average lost 0.5 percent. 

However, Australian shares surged on the back of strong corporate profits and solid consumer confidence figures. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index gained 0.8 percent after briefly breaching 5,000 mark for the first time since 2010. 

Exporters gained in South Korea lifting the KOSPI 0.7 percent and Singapore's Straits Times gained 0.6 percent.  

Equity markets in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Vietnam remain shut for the Lunar New Year holidays.

Elsewhere, the Dow Jones Industrial Average ended 0.34 percent up following solid corporate earnings from the financial firms. Barclays gained 9.1 percent after the UK bank announced 3,700 job cuts as part of restructuring though it reported a fiscal-year net loss. The Nasdaq closed 0.17 percent lower.

Meanwhile, in his State of the Union address, the US President Barack Obama urged the Republican law makers to end "manufactured" crises over federal budget deficit.

He proposed a hike in minimum wage to $9 an hour from the existing $7.25 rate and also announced billions of dollars of investment in the infrastructure sector to create jobs and boost growth in the economy.  

Major Movers in Asia

Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA), the nation's largest lender and Pharmaceutical company CSL Ltd lead the rally in Australia with strong corporate earnings results.

CBA surged 2.3 percent after it reported 6 percent rise in adjusted profits for the first-half. CSL rose 1.1 percent as it reported 24 percent increase in first-half profit.

In Japan, Toyota slid 0.9 percent as the yen strengthened against its peers and shares of Gree Inc. plunged 17 percent to 1,129 yen as the Japanese social-network game operator slashed its profit forecast.

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