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Asian Markets Are Mostly Higher, Japan Bucks Trend and Edges Down

Asian stocks were mostly higher in the morning session Wednesday with Japan the sole market pushing lower. Sentiment was lifted by a decent performance on Wall Street Tuesday, but markets are expected to stay in a narrow range as both buyers and sellers hesitate to make moves.

Tokyo's Nikkei 225 Average as investors sold shares of insurers and banks such as Millea Holdings and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group. Exporters such as Toyota Motor were also down,falling on the stronger yen. Investors are awaiting a decision on interest rates from the Bank of Japan. The BOJ starts a two-day policy meeting today at which it is widely expected to keep interest rates unchanged.

South Korea's KOSPI was flat. Fuel dependent firms such as Korean Air rose following a drop in oil prices, but this was offset by gains in Samsung Electronics on hopes for increased chip supplies to Apple.

Australian shares shed early losses to trade higher, as CSL jumped on robust earnings and an upbeat outlook, while top miner BHP Billiton rose ahead of its second-half earnings report. The Reserve Bank of Australia said it injected A$4.68 billion into the financial system, reacting to ongoing concerns in Australian capital markets over a lack of liquidity.

Singapore's Straits Times Index was sharply higher, led by a rebound in financial stocks such as DBS Group, United Overseas Bank and OCBC.

After opening sharply lower in response to the central bank's announcement late Tuesday that it was raising interest rates to fight inflation, Chinese stocks rebounded. The Shanghai Composite Index rose to a new record high with shares advancing across the board.