MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine Stock Exchange index surged to another all-time high on Wednesday, buoyed by expectations of easing inflation or the overall rise of prices of goods and services.
The main index closed nearly a percent up to 7,847.83, led by property companies Ayala Land Inc., Robinsons Land Corp., and SM Prime Holdings, ahead of the February inflation report due out on Thursday.
At least one analyst says expectations of further slowing inflation last month have boosted the outlook on many of the country's big property companies.
Lower inflation means the Bangko Sentral will have more room to keep rates at low levels, allowing consumers to borrow at cheaper rates to buy big-ticket items like houses or condo units.
At the foreign exchange market, the peso weakened to P44.10 against the US dollar.
Meanwhile, Asia markets mostly fell Wednesday following a retreat on Wall Street fuelled by profit-taking, with Tokyo hit by a stronger yen and Sydney dipping after data showed Australia's economy grew slower than expected last year.
With few trading cues investors are keeping a watch on the start of China's annual parliament meeting Thursday as well as European Central Bank details on its new bond-purchase scheme.
Tokyo lost 0.59 percent, or 111.56 points, to 18,703.60, Sydney, which ended at a seven-month high Monday, fell 0.54 percent, or 32.3 points, to 5,901.6 and Seoul lost 0.15 percent, 3.09 points, to 1,998.29.
Hong Kong fell 0.96 percent, or 237.40 points, to 24,465.38 but Shanghai rose 0.51 percent, or 16.48 points, to 3,279.53.
"The lack of fresh sparks has prompted investors to take profits and wait for new signals," Matthew Sherwood, Sydney-based head of investment markets research at Perpetual Ltd., told Bloomberg News.
Dealers took their lead from New York, where the three main indexes -- which have been on a six-year bull run -- ticked downwards after hitting key levels.
The Dow fell 0.47 percent and the S&P 500 slipped 0.45 percent, both a day after hitting new records. The Nasdaq slipped 0.56 percent after breaking 5,000 points for the first time in 15 years.
Tokyo led Asia's losers as the yen recovered slightly from recent losses against the dollar, with the greenback easing to 119.67 yen from 119.74 yen in New York Tuesday afternoon.
The euro bought $1.1171 and 133.68 yen against $1.1178 and 133.85 yen.
Slow Australian economy
In Australia, official figures showed the economy grew 0.5 percent on-quarter in the three months to December and 2.5 percent over the whole of 2014 -- below forecasts of 0.7 percent and 2.6 percent respectively.
The news comes a day after the Reserve Bank of Australia held off cutting interest rates for a second-straight month, but analysts say it will likely act again soon as jobless queues become longer and consumers stop spending.
Focus will next turn to the meeting of China's rubber-stamp legislature, the National People's Congress, at which Premier Li Keqiang is expected to deliver an address on the state of the economy.
Later in the day the ECB will hold its next policy meeting and outline details of the asset-purchase programme that it is launching in a bid to kickstart the eurozone economy and fight off deflation.
Oil prices were mixed ahead of the release of a key US energy inventory report later in the day. US benchmark West Texas Intermediate rose eight cents to $50.60 while Brent crude eased 31 cents to $60.71.
Prices rose Tuesday on news of growing unrest in exporter Libya.
Gold fetched $1,205.23 against $1,207.80 late Tuesday. - With reports from ANC and Agence France-Presse