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Market Update

Australia, India Shares Rise; Tokyo Down 1%

Stock markets in Sydney and Mumbai closed higher Wednesday with a few well-received corporate earnings helping Australian equities but Japanese shares lagged behind amid a stronger yen.

Australia's S&P/ASX All Ordinaries breached the key 5000-mark for the first time in 33 months to finish 0.9% higher.

Mumbai's Sensex moved off the day’s highs but finished up a modest 0.3%. 

But Japan's Nikkei lost 1%, dragged by a stronger currency and some lacklustre earnings.

Markets in mainland China and Hong Kong remained closed for the Lunar New Year holidays.

Gains in the Asian session came on heels of a positive overnight finish for Wall Street equities, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average closing at its highest level this year, led by gains in financials and consumer-related firms.

Some upbeat corporate earnings and economic reports further boosted sentiment. A private survey report showed Australian consume confidence rose sharply in February, jumping to its highest reading in more than two years.

Stocks on the move

In Australia, financial firms led the field with Commonwealth Bank of Australia hitting an all-time high after the lender's first-half profits came in better than expected. Shares of Commonwealth Bank were up 2.4% at market close.

Among other banks, NAB gained 1.2% amid news the banking giant would raise $750 million through hybrid securities. 

Westpac Banking rose 2.1% after reports said the bank would shift 134 jobs to India and Phillipines.

QBE Insurance Group surged 4% while Suncorp Group edged up 0.2%.

In earnings-related moves, Stockland surged 5% despite posting a huge first-half loss, while Leighton Holdings bounced over 7% after reporting profits of $450 million for the year ended 31 December 2012.

On the other side, Computershare Ltd. slipped 0.2% after reporting a decline in profit in first half of fiscal 2013.

Goodman Fielder dropped nearly 5% despite reporting higher net profits as the company said conditions in its core markets remained challenging.

In Tokyo, exporters declined sharply as the yen grew stronger against major rivals. Among top losers, Sony Corp. tumbled 5.6%, Panasonic Corp. slumped 3.44% while Mazda Motor erased 2.8% as a stronger currency dimmed earnings outlook of export-oriented firms.

On the earnings front, Pioneer Corp. said it expected extraordinary loss for second quarter of fiscal year 2013. Shares of Pioneer slumped 11% on heels of the news.

Olympus Corp. dropped 2.7% after the firm reported a quarterly loss.

In Mumbai, IT stocks were in focus after U.S. President Barack Obama called for imposing an "offshoring tax". IT firms, however, seemed unfazed by the news as TCS gained 1.6%, Infosys rose 1.3% but Wipro pared early gains, slipping 0.7% into the red.

Among other gainers, Tata Motors added 2.1%, HDFC climbed 1.8% and ONGC improved 1.8% too.

But shares of the troubled Kingfisher Airlines fell nearly 5% amid buzz lenders of the debt-mired carrier would soon initiate loan recovery procedures.