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HONG KONG, Feb 1 AFP

February 01 2013, 8:21PM

Asian markets were mixed, with Tokyo boosted by further weakness in the yen, while official data indicated Chinese manufacturing activity grew in January but at a moderate rate.

The yen on Friday hit a two-and-a-half-year low against the dollar in forex trade with dealers upbeat ahead of the release of jobs data, while a bright Eurozone confidence survey sent the euro higher.

Tokyo was up 0.47 per cent, or 52.68 points, at 11,191.34 but Seoul eased 0.21 per cent, or 4.15 points, to 1,957.79.

In the afternoon Shanghai had surged 1.30 per cent while Hong Kong was flat.

Beijing released official figures on Friday showing manufacturing activity had seen a slip last month. The purchasing managers index (PMI) came in at 50.4, down from December's 50.6 and below the 51.0 forecast by economists.

A score above 50 indicates an expansion in manufacturing activity.

The data represents the first halt to a recent rise in activity that has fuelled hopes the world's number two economy has emerged from the slumber it was in for most of 2012.

However, banking giant HSBC, which looks at smaller firms, showed the PMI at a more than two-year high of 52.3, up from 51.5 in December.

Analysts said it was unlikely to distress investors significantly as the figure is usually distorted around the Chinese New Year holiday, which falls on February 10 this year.

"We believe the Chinese economy and its related asset markets will remain in a sweet spot in the near term," said Bank of America Merrill Lynch economists Lu Ting and Hu Weijun.

China will release crucial trade and inflation figures next week.

Japanese shares enjoyed further advances as investors continued to sell the yen after the Bank of Japan said it would carry out open-ended monetary easing and introduce a two per cent inflation target.

In afternoon trade in Tokyo the dollar bought 92.20 yen - its highest since mid-2010 - up from 91.70 yen in New York late Thursday.

The euro also surged to 125.56 yen - also a high not seen since the middle of 2010 - from 124.52 yen. The single currency also bought $US1.3620, up from $US1.3576.

The euro got a boost after the European Commission's eurozone confidence index rose for a third straight month as concerns over sovereign debts and a banking crisis ease significantly.

In other markets:

- Taipei was flat, edging up 5.95 points to 7,855.97.

HTC fell 0.51 per cent to Tw$290.0 while Hon Hai Precision rose 0.24 per cent to Tw$84.6.

- Kuala Lumpur was closed for a public holiday.