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Asian Stocks Slip but Japan Up as Banks Rally

Most Asian markets were in the red on Wednesday after U.S. stocks snapped their winning streak on fears of an interest rate hike and a sluggish outlook from General Electric .

Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 averageclosed 0.93 percent higher at 10,177.41 points, while the broader Topix gained 1.54 percent to 898.29.

Market players said gains for the Nikkei as a whole were more limited than they might otherwise be, with investors wary ahead of the end of the Federal Reserve meeting later on Wednesday and global economic uncertainty also weighing.

Mizuho Financial led the gainers, soaring over 20 percent at one point, after a Nikkei report quoted traders saying that global banking regulators have agreed to effectively delay the enforcement of new capital adequacy rules for large banks.

Mizuho Financial, Japan's second-biggest bank, rose 17.7 percent to 186 yen. Top lender Mitsubishi UFJ Financial rose 5.4 percent to 472 yen and No. 3 bank Sumitomo Mitsui Financial gained 15.1 percent to 3,050 yen.

The banking subindex climbed 7.6 percent, becoming the top gainer among the subindexes. The securities subindex gained 3.1 percent and the real estate subindex rose 3.2 percent.

The report cheered Japanese property stocks that have been hit by the global economic crisis which has squeezed financing and driving investors out of the property market. Mitsui Fudosan and Sumitomo Realty & Development both jumped.

Japan Airlines climbed 4 percent to 104 yen after saying on Tuesday that most retirees were willing to accept proposed cuts to pension payouts, a key step needed to secure approval for reducing its pension burden, which is a prerequisite for receiving a government bailout.

The Korea Composite Index drifted 0.1 percent lower to 1,664.2 points after a choppy session as investors eyed the outcome of the Fed's policy meeting.

Gains in technology issues lent support to the index, led by LG Electronics' 2.5 percent rise. But transporters including Korean Air Line retreated on recovering crude prices.

Shares in Daewoo International and Daewoo Shipbuilding rose 2.6 percent and 5.5 percent respectively on hopes of improving sales.

Australian stocks gave up early gains to end 0.25 percent lower on Wednesday, with appliance maker Breville diving after a takeover bid was blocked.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 indexlost 11.6 points to 4,661.29. The index rose 0.4 percent to a one-week closing high on Tuesday.

New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index gained 0.5 percent at 3,132.3.

Shares of Breville Group plunged 25 percent to A$1.60 after the competition watchdog said it would oppose a takeover bid by GUD Holdings on grounds the tie-up would lessen competition.

Westpac rose 0.6 percent to A$23.93 after chairman Ted Evans said the bank was well positioned and bad debts had peaked.

Oil Search shares gained 2.4 percent to A$5.65 on news it had secured funds for a Papua New Guinea liquefied natural gas project.

Qantas Airways shed 0.37 percent to A$2.68 after the government planned to ease restrictions of foreign ownership on the airline. However, they said the carrier would still remain majority Australian owned.

Greater China markets were lower, with the Taiwan Weighted closing 0.7 percent lower. The Hang Seng shed 0.9 percent by the close, while Shanghai Composite fell 0.6 percent.

Chinese banks extended losses on persistent fears that China's measures to cool its red-hot real estate market could extend to the financial sector. Bank of China fell to its lowest level in more than two months.

Shares of China Shipbuilding Industry, rose 14 percent on their Shanghai debut, lagging analyst forecasts after raising $2.2 billion in China's third-largest IPO this year.

Taiwan-listed Tingyi Holdings, the company behind instant noodle brand Master Kong, were limit up on their first trading day, on optimism the company would benefit from China's solid economic growth.

The world's No. 2 PC brand maker, Acer, and other Taiwanese tech issuestracked losses on Wall Street due to concerns over inflation and technology demand.

In South-east Asia, the Straits Times Index inched up 0.5 percent while the KL Composite lost 0.1 percent.

Singapore's Chemoil Energy resumed trading but plunged over 15 percent after Glencore said it had acquired a 51 percent stake in the company.

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