Japanese stocks recover some losses
Japanese stocks have rebounded, recovering some of the massive losses sustained during the past two days following a devastating earthquake and tsunami.
Other Asian indexes also bounced back even as the economic toll from the disasters, including an escalating nuclear crisis, remained unclear.
Oil prices hovered above 97 US dollars a barrel after big losses overnight. In currencies, the dollar was up against the yen and the euro.
The Nikkei closed up 5.7% to 9,093.72 as traders searched for bargains after panic selling sent the index spiralling down nearly 11% the day before.
On Tuesday, the Nikkei closed at its lowest level in almost two years after shedding more than 1,600 points, or 16%, over two days.
The plunge prompted Tokyo Stock Exchange president Atsushi Saito to release a statement on Tuesday night calling for calm. He noted that foreign investors were net buyers during the last two days.
"I also believe that Japan's experience, knowledge and technologies in the area of recovering from earthquakes should not be underestimated and that the stock market will calm down soon," Saito said.
Meanwhile, the Bank of Japan pumped cash into Tokyo's money markets for a third day in a row, bringing its total liquidity injection to 55.6 trillion yen (£427.6 billion) since Monday. That helped banking shares perk up - Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, the country's biggest bank, was up 2.2%, and Mizuho Financial Group gained 5.4%.
Japan's powerhouse exporters also caught their breath after suffering staggering losses. Toyota, the world's biggest car maker, shot up 9.1%, Sony rose 8.8% and truck-maker Isuzu was 10.5% higher.
Heavy industry shares rose as the shock of the disaster gave way to thoughts of rebuilding. Kobe Steel soared 15%, and Nishimatsu Construction jumped 5.8% higher.