Asian markets were mostly lower Wednesday, with focus on the US Federal Reserve's policy meeting later in the trading day, but Tokyo enjoyed another rally as data showed a surge in exports thanks to a weaker yen.
Wall Street again provided a healthy cue, with investors betting the Fed will stop short of reeling in its "quantitative easing" (QE) bond-buying programme.
Tokyo added 1.83 percent, or 237.94 points, to 13,245.22 and Sydney was 0.98 percent higher, climbing 47.0 points to 4,861.4. Seoul lost 0.65 percent, or 12.31 points, to 1,888.31.
Shanghai lost 0.73 percent, or 15.84 points to close at 2,143.45 and Hong Kong slipped 1.13 percent, or 238.99 points, at 20,986.89.
The US central bank's policy board will announce its decision on QE later Wednesday, with traders hoping it will stick to the $85-billion-a-month buying programme, which has sent markets soaring since being unveiled in September.
Global equities and currencies have been sent into turmoil in recent weeks on expectations Fed chief Ben Bernanke will start turning off the tap.
However, IG strategist Stan Shamu told Dow Jones Newswires: "Based on the recent US economic data, Bernanke will probably say that little has changed since last month and that the Fed is happy to continue its quantitative easing."The market is now betting the Fed will pull back only in "the distant horizon", said Art Hogan of Lazard Capital Markets. Bernanke's message will be that "things are getting better, but not enough so that we're going to start tapering".
On Wall Street the Dow climbed 0.91 percent, the S&P 500 jumped 0.78 percent and the Nasdaq was 0.87 percent higher.
Investors in Tokyo welcomed figures showing a 10.1 percent year on year rise in exports for May as the weaker yen makes Japanese firms' goods more attractive overseas.
The news comes soon after revised data showed the economy expanded at a faster rate than initially thought in the January-March quarter, adding to improving confidence in the outlook.
While Wednesday's results also showed imports surging 10.1 percent, they indicate Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's big-spending plan to boost the economy is having an effect.
"It is not just the weaker yen increasing the value of exports, the amount of exports is increasing as well," Junko Nishioka, chief economist at RBS Securities Japan, told Dow Jones Newswires.
"This shows Japanese companies are increasingly in better shape... Their profitability is also rising these days, meaning they are becoming more resilient to potential external shocks," she added.After enjoying a run-up in morning Tokyo trade the dollar eased slightly later in the day to sit at 95.05 yen, compared with 95.37 yen in New York late Tuesday.
The euro fetched $1.3389 and 127.20 yen compared with $1.3396 and 127.76 yen.
Shares in Hong Kong and Shanghai were lower on reports that property tax trials will be launched in China this year in a bid to cap property prices. There are also fears of a share glut on the mainland caused by another report that a ban on initial public offerings will be lifted next month.
Oil prices were mixed. New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in July, was up 38 cents to $98.82 a barrel and Brent North Sea crude for August delivery added 28 cents to $106.30 in the afternoon.
Gold was at $1,367.80 at 1100 GMT from $1,377.10 late Tuesday.
In other markets:
-- Taipei ended flat, dipping 3.63 points to 8,007.39
Smartphone maker HTC fell 2.25 percent to Tw$260.5 while Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company was 0.94 percent lower at Tw$105.5.
-- Wellington fell 0.37 percent, or 16.55 points, to 4,445.55.
Sky Network Television fell 4.6 percent to NZ$5.41 after the country's largest pay-TV operator announced it had lost the rights to broadcast English Premier League football. It had lost 8.3 percent at one point.
Sky was outbid by online rival Coliseum Sports Media, despite submitting its highest-ever offer for the rights.
-- Manila was flat, dipping 5.57 points to close at 6,513.20.
Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. dropped 0.96 percent to 2,902 pesos and Ayala Land slid 2.30 percent to 29.70 pesos.
-- Bangkok added 0.72 percent or 10.28 points to 1,437.70.
Telecoms company Advanced Info Service rose 4.76 percent to 264.00 baht, while oil company PTT gained 3.43 percent to 332.00 baht.
-- Jakarta ended down 0.70 percent, or 33.80 points, at 4,806.66.
Palm oil producer Astra Agro Lestari fell 2.23 percent to 19,750 rupiah, while mobile phone provider Indosat rose 0.93 percent to 5,450 rupiah.
-- Kuala Lumpur shares fell 0.07 percent or 1.17 points, or to close at 1,772.88.
YTL shed 1.2 percent to 1.66 ringgit, while Malayan Banking fell 0.2 percent to 10.42. CIMB Group Holdings gained 0.2 percent to 8.29 ringgit.
-- Mumbai edged up 0.12 percent or 22.42 points to 19,245.70 points.
Bharti Airtel rose 2.83 percent to 299.70 rupees. Private aluminium producer Hindalco rose 2.66 percent to 104.20 rupees.