asian markets

Most Asian markets picked up in the mornings session, led by Japanese stocks, as Bank of Japan officials meet for a two day policy review amid monetary easing speculations.

The Nikkei average index traded 1.7 percent or 204.03 points higher to 12207.5 while China's Shanghai Composite Index was up 0.4 percent or 8.05 points to 2235.8. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index added 0.04 percent or 8.05 points to 22375.9.

South Korea's KOSPI fell 0.5 percent or 9 points to 1977.2. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 was down 0.8 percent or 41.60 points to 4943.0.

The Japanese central bank began its first policy meet under the new governor Haruhiko Kuroda. Analysts widely expect Kuroda to come up with bold policy shifts, including an increase of bond purchases, which would support Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's efforts to boost Japan's lagging economy.

"The BoJ is a key meeting for yen bears who are expecting the announcement of more aggressive policy easing under new governor Kuroda," Kelly Teoh, market strategist at IG Markets in Singapore.

"Much of this has been factored in so expectations are high for the new broom".

Meanwhile, the dollar picked up against the yen after remaining weak in the previous session, trading above 93 yen.

Investors across the region are also awaiting the European Central Bank's (ECB) policy meet, scheduled for Thursday. Eurozone purchasing managers index (PMI) released by Markit this week had shown that activities remained in contractionary territory for the 20<sup>th straight month, boosting hopes that ECB might look to ease policy soon.

US economic indicators continued to provide a mixed picture. Factory goods orders for February jumped sharply in February, but an index of planned business spending remained weak. The data comes after the Institute of Supply Management's (ISM) data showed that the US manufacturing fell more-than-expected in March.

China's official non-manufacturing PMI released during the day showed that service sector in the world's second biggest economy rose to 55.6 in March from 54.5 in February. A China service sector PMI index from HSBC was also released during the day, which showed that activities rose to a six-month peak in March.

Major Movers

Automobile firms traded higher in Tokyo after the US sales figures showed monthly improvement. Toyota was up 1.8 percent while Honda Motor Company was up 2.8 percent. Nissan Motor was up 2.6 percent.

Mining sector remained weak in Australia. Rio Tinto was down 2.02 percent while Fortescue Metals Group fell 3.4 percent.

Resource sector traded lower in Hong Kong as well. Aluminum Corp of China was down 2.4 percent while Jiangxi Copper was down 1.3 percent. Zijin Mining Group fell 1.9 percent.