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Asia Struggles to Keep Gains Despite Fed Initiatives

Asian markets struggled while the U.S. dollar nursed large losses Thursday, after the Federal Reserve pledged to pump an additional $1 trillion into the ailing U.S. economy.

The Fed surprised investors by announcing on Wednesday it would buy $300 billion worth of U.S. Treasurys -- its first purchases of government debt since the early 1960s -- as part of a move that also includes buying more mortgage and agency debt.

Wall Street indexes closed as much as 2.1 percent higher on the surprise move, with shares of financial stocks and home builders gaining as investors saw the move as likely to help ease tight credit market conditions.

The U.S. dollar tumbled against the yen and euro , as the Fed's move dragged U.S. yields sharply lower while threatening to flood the market with extra dollars. Crude oil prices rose above $49 a barrel on the greenback's sharp fall.

Japan's Nikkei 225 Average finished 0.3 percent lower as a stronger yen hit Honda Motor and other exporters, but steps by the U.S. and Japanese central banks to ease the credit crisis helped boost banking shares.

South Korea's KOSPI closed down 0.7 percent as losses by exporters on a rapid rise in the won outweighed gains by the beneficiaries of strength in the domestic currency, while KB Financial slid on rumors of a stake sale by an investor.

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Hong Kong shares closed 0.1 percent higher as investors sold down HSBC which fell 2.8 percent, following a seven-session rally, offsetting gains in select Chinese resource stocks that tracked buoyant commodity prices. China's top juice maker, Huiyuan Juice, plummeted over 40 percent at one point as it resumed trading after Beijing rejected a takeover bid by Coca-Cola. The stock, which had fallen to an early low of HK$3.88, clawed its way back to levels seen before Coke made its HK$12.2 per share buyout bid in September 2008.

Singapore's Straits Times Index climbed 0.6 percent with financials such as DBS Group, up over 3 percent, climbing after the rally in U.S. markets.

China's Shanghai Composite Index rose 1.9 percent in active turnover, led by coal shares, gaining for a fourth day in a row as ample liquidity courses through China's capital markets. Coal shares were strong, with China Shenhua Energy advancing.