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Asia: Stocks rise amid Japan rebound as yen pulls back; oil sinks

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[WELLINGTON] Shares in Tokyo snapped a three-day slide, driving gains in Asia as the yen retreated amid speculation over the outlook for Japanese stimulus. Gold fell ahead of the Federal Reserve's interest-rate review, while crude oil extended its slump.

Japan's Topix index rallied from a two-week low as mining and consumer stocks drove the Asian equity benchmark to its highest level since November. Nasdaq 100 Index futures jumped 0.6 per cent after better-than-expected earnings boosted Apple Inc in extended US trading.

Crude fell a fifth straight day, slipping to US$42.67 a barrel ahead of data on American fuel stockpiles, and gold declined with Australian government debt. The yen pulled back following a 1.1 per cent surge on Tuesday, while Malaysia's ringgit rebounded.

While economists predict the BOJ will ease policy this week, Finance Minister Taro Aso muddied the waters Tuesday by damping speculation of an immediate boostin government support measures, casting doubt over whether Japanese officials will coordinate their stimulus efforts.

Market voices on:

The Fed reviews rates before Japan, with the US central bank projected to keep borrowing costs on hold Wednesday, despite an uptick in bets on tightening this year. Apple's post-results boost contrasted with an 11 per cent after-market slide in Twitter Inc, which forecast below-estimate company revenue.

"The key is whether the BOJ will surprise us again on Friday," Alex Wong, director of asset management at Ample Capital in Hong Kong, said on Bloomberg Radio's First Word Asia program.

"The Japanese central bank has surprised the market several times in the past few years so they are a little bit unpredictable. There may be a disappointment" if the BOJ fails to deliver extra stimulus, he said.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index added 0.3 per cent as of 9:33 am Tokyo time, headed for its highest close since Nov 5 as the Topix gained 0.7 per cent.

The S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 0.4 per cent in Sydney, led higher by raw materials producers and energy shares, while South Korea's Kospi index swung between gains and losses. New Zealand's S&P/NZX 50 Indexdropped 0.1 per cent after reaching a record on Monday.

Futures on the S&P 500 Index - which closed little changed on Tuesday - added 0.1 per cent with Apple shares up about 7 per cent in after-market New York trading. Futures on Hong Kong's Hang Seng and Hang Seng China Enterprises gauges added more than 0.2 per cent in most recent trade, with contracts on the FTSE China A50 Index up 0.1 per cent.

In terms of data Wednesday, Australia is due to update on consumer prices and China reports on industrial company profits. Thailand also issues figures on trade and Japan reports on small business confidence.