asian stocks

Asian markets swung between gains and losses in the morning though the US firms reported better-than-expected fourth-quarter figures.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.25 percent or 12.00 points to 4791.10 while South Korea's KOSPI added 0.05 percent or 0.92 points to 1997.44. In China, the Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.35 percent or 8.15 points to 2323.29. Hong Kong's Hang Seng picked up 0.11 percent or 26.70 points to 23685.69.

The Japanese benchmark Nikkei average fell 0.82 percent or 87.75 points to 10622.18 as the yen strengthened against the dollar.

US stocks had closed earlier with gains as the S&P 500 registering its strongest winning streak in almost six weeks, helped by improved fourth-quarter corporate earnings optimism. The upbeat note carried over post market as earnings reports from technology heavyweights Google and IBM beat estimates.

The world's largest internet search firm reported that its net income excluding traffic acquisition expenses increased to $9.83bn from $8.13bn a year earlier. A Reuters poll of analysts had expected the figure to remain at $9.6bn.

IBM, the global technology services major, reported a 10 percent rise in net income, year-on-year, and forecasted stronger than expected full year performance.

Japanese markets extended losses from the previous session as the yen snapped its weak run against the dollar after Bank of Japan doubled its inflation targets and announced open ended asset purchase plans. The greenback traded at ¥88.64 after having touched its highest level in about two and a half years, ¥90.25, early this week.

"Despite the hype about 'bold moves' and 'unlimited easing', the markets have been underwhelmed by the announcements made by the Bank of Japan today," noted Julian Jessop, Chief Global Economist at Capital Economics.

"This muted reaction makes sense, as there was little that was unexpected or genuinely new".

Eurozone concerns were slightly reduced after German ZEW investor sentiments index jumped for the second straight month to a more-than-two-year high in January. In bond markets, Spain managed to collect about 14 percent of its 2013 funding target after investors welcomed the country's 10-year bonds in the previous day.

Major Movers

Some of the major export-oriented Japanese electronics firms traded lower as the local currency's strength dented earnings hopes. Pioneer was down 3.67 percent while Ricoh dropped 3.33 percent.

But the yen's relative firmness helped South Korean exporters to move up. Samsung Electronics rose 0.61 percent while automobile majors Hyundai and Kia jumped 2.10 and 1.29 percent respectively.