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Last updated: February 16. 2013 6:03PM - 112 Views

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(AP) Shares were mostly higher in Asia on Tuesday after China's central bank moved to ease tight liquidity through open market operations, though gains were capped by uncertainties over the European debt crisis.


Japan's Nikkei 225 index rose 0.1 percent to 9,181.56, while South Korea's Kospi added 0.2 percent to 1,950.78. Hong Kong's Hang Seng slipped 0.1 percent to 20,078.90. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 added 0.6 percent to 4,390.70.


Benchmarks in Singapore, Taiwan and mainland China also rose.


Investors remain cautious ahead of a pivotal week for Greece, whose leaders need to demonstrate progress in implementing economic reforms.


Despite the move by China's central bank to ease funding shortages through money market operations, the slimness of the gains suggests the market could take a turn for the worse in coming days, said Linus Yip, a strategist with Shanghai Securities in Hong Kong.


"We are going into a critical time window," Yip said. "The momentum is not good enough to push the market to a higher level. The diminishing turnover suggests a retrenchment may be coming."


Gains were supported by lingering hopes that the European Central Bank might buy bonds to help some European countries reduce their borrowing costs, despite denials by ECB officials of such plans, and signs from Germany that it opposes such moves.


Gains in Japan were constrained by declines in makers of heavy machinery due to concerns over their sales outlooks. Kubota Corp. fell 0.8 percent while Komatsu Corp. dropped 2.4 percent.


Overnight, in the U.S. and Europe edged lower in quiet vacation-season trading.


The Dow Jones industrial average fell 3.56 points, or 0.3 percent, at 13,271.64. The Standard & Poor's 500 fell a sliver, 0.03 point, to 1,418.13. The Nasdaq composite index fell 0.38 point to 3,076.21.


In Europe, the FTSE-100 index of leading British companies closed 0.5 percent lower at 5,824.37 while Germany's DAX fell 0.1 percent to 7,033.68. France's CAC-40 shed 0.2 percent to 3,480.58.


Investors are watching Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras' visit this week to Germany and France, where he is expected to request an extension of Greece's deadline to meet fiscal targets as the country carries out painful reforms. Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, who chairs the eurozone finance ministers' meetings, will be in Athens on Wednesday to meet Samaras.


In China, the Shanghai Composite Index jumped 0.6 percent to 2,119.72 following reports Chongqing, a huge metropolis in southwestern China, plans to spend 1.7 trillion yuan ($236 billion) to upgrade its manufacturing sector.


Crude oil rose 2 cents to $95.99 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 4 cents to $95.97 per barrel in New York on Monday.


In currencies, the euro was trading at $1.2360, up from $1.2348 late Monday in New York. The dollar fell to 79.31 yen from 79.43 yen.


Associated Press
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