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Asia stocks mixed; Nikkei rallies 2.2% as BoJ announces fresh easing

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Shutterstock photo - Asian stock markets were mixed during late Asian trade on Thursday, with shares in Japan erasing earlier losses to turn sharply higher after the Bank of Japan announced that it was launching an aggressive easing program.

During late Asian trade, Australia's ASX/200 Index ended down 0.9%, while Japan's Nikkei 225 Index rallied 2.2%. Markets in Hong Kong and mainland China remained closed for a public holiday.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei rallied sharply to surge above the key 12,000-mark after the BOJ said it would double its holdings of long-term government bonds and exchange-traded funds and purchase Japanese government bonds of all maturities.

It also plans to bring forward the timing of open-ended asset purchases and said it was likely to buy JPY7 trillion in long-term JGBs a month.

A statement on monetary policy released after the announcement showed that the decisions were made by a unanimous vote by the BoJ's nine-man policy board in its first meeting under the helm of new Governor Haruhiko Kuroda.

The decision saw the yen weaken by 1.5% against the U.S. dollar, buoying exporters. A weaker yen increases the value of overseas income at Japanese companies when repatriated, boosting the outlook for export earnings.

Automakers Mazda and Honda surged 3.6% and 3.4% respectively, while Nissan and Toyota added 2.6% and 2.8% apiece.

Japanese megabanks were also higher, with shares in the nation's largest lender Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group surging 5.5%, while Mizuho Financial Group jumped 5.1% and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group rallied 6.6%.

Elsewhere, in Australia, the benchmark ASX/200 Index edged lower as miners came under pressure after gold and copper prices fell in New York.

Newcrest Mining saw shares tumble 5.2%, Alumina declined 1.9%, while iron ore producer Fortescue Metals Group slumped 3.3%. Mining giants BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto lost 1.5% and 1.4% apiece.

Looking ahead, European stock market futures pointed to a steady open, as investor's awaited comments by European Central Bank President Mario Draghi after the bank's policy meeting later in the day.

The EURO STOXX 50 futures pointed to a loss of 0.1% at the open, France's CAC 40 futures added 0.1%, London's FTSE 100 futures dipped 0.2%, while Germany's DAX futures pointed to a gain of 0.1% at the open.

Spain was to hold an auction of 10-year government bonds later Thursday, while the U.S. was to release the weekly government report on initial jobless claims. - offers an extensive set of professional tools for the Forex, Commodities, Futures and the Stock Market including real-time data streaming, a comprehensive economic calendar, as well as financial news and technical & fundamental analysis by in-house experts.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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