Asia's stock markets mixed after G-20 spares Japan from currency rebuke

HONG KONG (AFP) - Asian markets were mixed on Monday, with Tokyo surging thanks to a weakening yen after a weekend G-20 meeting ended without accusing Japan of orchestrating a recent slide in its currency.

The Japanese unit resumed its downward trend as dealers welcomed the end of the Moscow talks, which came amid concerns that Japan's new aggressive monetary policy could spark a currency war.

Tokyo climbed 2.09 per cent, or 234.04 points, to 11,407.87 and Sydney added 0.59 per cent, or 29.5 points, to end at 5,063.4, around highs not seen for about four-and-a-half years thanks to strong corporate results. Seoul was flat, edging up 0.73 points to 1,981.91.

However, Hong Kong eased 0.27 per cent, or 62.62 points, to 23,381.94, while Shanghai, returning after a week-long Chinese New Year break, fell 0.45 per cent, or 10.84 points, to 2,421.56.

The G-20 finance ministers' statement issued Saturday said: "We will refrain from competitive devaluation", adding "we will not target our exchange rates for competitive purposes". The pledge echoed a recent statement by the G-7 richest nations. Neither named Tokyo as a currency manipulator.

The Bank of Japan, under pressure from Japan's new conservative government, last month unveiled a plan for unlimited monetary easing and a target for 2 per cent inflation as part of a bid to beat lingering deflation. However, the moves sparked charges of manipulation, particularly in Europe, with some warning of a currency war in which nations weaken their units in a bid to boost exports.