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    Arrow Asia stocks up on tech; focus on RBA decision

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    [DOWN]Asian shares rose for a third straight session on Tuesday, led by tech stocks, while the Australian dollar slid ahead of what is
    expected to be a close decision by the central bank on whether to raise interest rates again.

    Lower volatility in financial markets and upbeat comments from SanDisk, the biggest maker of NAND flash memory cards, lifting tech-heavy share markets such as South Korea and Taiwan. The euro remained under pressure, with dealers unconvinced that Greece's fiscal crisis was close to being resolved until they saw an aid package. Fears about the ability of a handful of European countries to finance their growing debts have kept a lid on risky assets, even though the global economic recovery generally appears on track.

    "Euro/dollar looks vulnerable to any Greek relapse and upside will be heavy going and likely capped around resistance at $1.3693," said Mitul Kotecha, global head of foreign exchange strategy with Credit Agricole CIB, said in a note. "In any case, the saga is set to roll on for the next few weeks." Japan's Nikkei share average was nearly flat on the day. Strength in the tech sector was countered by weakness in Astellas Pharma Inc, which dropped 1.5 percent after launching a $3.5 billion hostile offer for US firm OSI Pharmaceuticals.

    "This will require a lot of money on Astellas's part and could make it tough for the shares over the short term, though over the long term the move has good potential," said Masayoshi Okamoto, head of dealing at Jujiya Securities in Tokyo. The MSCI index of Asia Pacific shares outside Japan was up 0.6 percent, with the information technology sector in clear command of the day, up 1.5 percent.

    After plunging 14 percent in the month to Feb 8 on worries about the strength of the global recovery and Greece, the index has retraced nearly half its losses, with international fund managers slowly rebuilding their exposure to the region. Clearly risks remain, however. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index, a favourite among foreign investors, dropped 0.9 percent, led by a 6 percent drop in HSBC's stock after Europe's biggest bank posted disappointing 2009 results.


    In currency markets, the Australian dollar was down 0.2 percent on the day, at US$0.8991 The 100-day moving average, currently at $0.9067, capped the small rebound in the Australian dollar last month and stands as a near-term obstacle.



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