Asian shares inch higher, yen firmer
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Asian shares inched higher on Wednesday while the yen was firmer amid conflicting interpretations of G7 comments about the yen's recent weakness.
The MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.4 percent, pulled higher by Australian shares which advanced 0.8 percent led by the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, which posted record first half earnings.
China, Taiwan and Hong Kong markets remain closed for the Lunar New Year holiday.
US stocks closed modestly higher on Tuesday, putting the Dow within striking distance of an all-time high.
South Korean shares opened 0.4 percent higher.
Investors were likely to continue taking cues from currency markets before the meeting in Moscow of the Group of 20 finance ministers and central bankers on Friday and Saturday, with growing international tensions over exchange rates.
At centre is Japan, where Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government has made it clear that it will push for aggressive policies to beat stubborn deflation through drastic monetary expansion. Anticipation of much bolder Bank of Japan monetary policy has sent the yen into a steady decline, helping boost Japanese stocks to 33-month highs.
"The Japanese market will likely stay sensitive to officials' comments until the G20 meeting this weekend. Any comments on foreign exchange could move the market," said Takuya Takahashi, an analyst at Daiwa Securities.
The Nikkei stock average opened down 0.3 percent.
The yen rallied on Tuesday, reversing the previous day's late selloff against the dollar and euro after an official with the Group of Seven said it is worried about excess moves in the Japanese currency.
G7 governors and ministers reaffirmed their commitment that fiscal and monetary policies would not be directed at devaluing currencies, a statement meant to soothe nerves that Tokyo was not aiming to guide the yen lower with its aggressive expansion of monetary policy.