HONG KONG: Asian markets mostly climbed on Thursday, with Tokyo leading advances as the yen weakened against the dollar owing to dimming expectations of fresh monetary easing by the US Federal Reserve.
With few catalysts to drive action during the holiday season trade was light, although shares were kept buoyant by lingering hopes for a restart of sovereign bond-buying by the European Central Bank and new stimulus in China.
Tokyo rose 1.36 percent by the break, Hong Kong added 0.34 percent and Sydney gained 0.66 percent, while Seoul was flat and Shanghai slipped 0.10 percent.
Exporters on Japan's Nikkei were the main beneficiaries of the weakening yen, which eased to a four-week low against the dollar.
The dollar bought 79.16 yen in early Asian trade, up from 78.87 yen in New York late Wednesday.
"The current dollar/yen level is a big support for local shares, since large manufacturers forecast the dollar to average 78.95 yen this fiscal year," Masayuki Doshida, Rakuten Securities senior market analyst in Japan, told Dow Jones Newswires.
A weaker yen makes exporters' goods less expensive overseas.
Car makers Honda and Mazda advanced 1.7 percent and 3.3 percent respectively, while electronics giant Panasonic was 4.1 percent higher and Nippon Steel was up 3.1 percent.
Also on forex markets the euro bought $1.2293 and 97.32 yen compared with $1.2285 and 96.91 yen in New York.
Wall Street provided very little direction for Asian traders.
In the United States new data showed inflation was flat and that national industrial production grew 0.6 percent month on month in July, mainly driven by the auto sector.
Manufacturing in the New York area posted a surprise drop however.
The National Association of Homebuilders' activity index rose by two points to 37 -- still low, but the highest level since early 2007, indicating greater optimism among companies that build housing.
The Dow edged down 0.06 percent while the S&P 500 added 0.11 percent and the tech-rich Nasdaq gained a more substantial 0.34 percent.