HONG KONG- Asian markets and the euro rose on Thursday ahead of a European Central Bank meeting that many expect will see the restart of a sovereign bond-buying programme aimed at easing the eurozone debt crisis.

Tokyo edged up 0.01 percent, or 0.75 points, to 8,680.57 while Seoul advanced 0.38 percent, or 7.21 points, to close at 1,881.24.

Sydney rose 0.80 percent, or 34.1 points, to finish at 4,312.9 after Qantas Airways jumped 6.67 percent at Aus$1.20 on an announcement it has tied up with Emirates Airlines as part of a global alliance to turn around its international arm.

Hong Kong was 0.34 percent, or 64.23 points, higher at 19,209.30 and Shanghai climbed 0.70 percent, or 14.24 points, to 2,051.92.

The gains were also helped by bargain-hunting after two days of losses caused by another batch of weak manufacturing data that fuelled concerns over the global economy.

Investors have become increasingly confident that the ECB will announce plans to buy up the debt of under-pressure countries that have seen their borrowing costs soar to dangerous levels.

Bank chief Mario Draghi raised hopes in July by saying it would do whatever was needed to save the euro, and expectations were raised further this week when European lawmakers said he had hinted at buying short-term debt on the secondary market.

Such a move in the past was justified to help stabilise and protect the 17-nation eurozone, he said, according to the politicians.

And on Wednesday media reports said the ECB planned to re-enter sovereign debt markets with unlimited bond purchases.

The expectations sent the euro higher in New York late Wednesday after easing slightly earlier in the day in Asia.

On Thursday the single currency rose further, fetching $1.2629 and 99.05 yen against $1.2600 and 98.78 yen in New York.

The dollar was at 78.42 yen, compared with 78.38 yen.

However, Hiroichi Nishi, general manager of equities at SMBC Nikko Securities, told Dow Jones Newswires that traders would remain edgy until after the ECB meeting later Thursday.

"It will be more of the same as in recent sessions -- small net market movements, reduced volatility, with some bargain-buying in oversold issues, as well as some added buying in euro-exposed issues," he said.

"The ECB meeting is the main focus, however, and trading will be thin until more is known about the implications" of the central bank's policy stance.

On Wall Street, the three main indexes closed mixed. The Dow edged up 0.09 percent, the S&P 500 eased 0.11 percent and the tech-rich Nasdaq fell 0.19 percent.

Once the ECB meeting is out of the way dealers will be looking to the United States, where non-farm jobs data will be released Friday, which will give a clearer indication as to the state of the world's number one economy.

Oil prices advanced. New York's main contract, light sweet crude for October delivery, rose $1.01 to $96.37 a barrel and Brent North Sea crude for October was 87 cents higher at $113.96.

Gold was at $1,708.24 at 1045 GMT compared with $1,691.51 on Wednesday.

In other markets:

-- Wellington rose 23.89 points, or 0.65 percent at 3,693.54.

Telecom Corp was up 0.41 percent to NZ$2.465 and Air New Zealand increased 3.24 percent to NZ$1.12.

-- Manila closed flat, edging down 0.10 points to 5,150.11.

Alliance Global Group rose 1.33 percent to 12.22 pesos, while Metropolitan Bank and Trust fell 15 centavos to 91.95 pesos.

-- Taipei fell 40.72 points, or 0.55 percent at 7,326.72.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co shed 1.1 percent at Tw$81.1 while Hon Hai Precision was 0.45 percent lower at Tw$88.4.

-- Singapore closed down 0.22 percent, or 6.64 points, to 2,989.26.

DBS Group gained 0.56 percent to Sg$14.26 while Keppel Land fell 1.49 percent to Sg$3.30.

-- Jakarta ended 0.67 percent higher, or 27.51 points up,at 4,102.86.

Mining company Aneka Tambang rose 1.61 percent to 1,260 rupiah, automotive company Astra International gained 1.45 percent at 7,000 rupiah and Bank Negara Indonesia rose 0.66 percent to 3,800 rupiah.

-- Kuala Lumpur dipped 23.02 points, or 1.40 percent, to 1,617.99.

Axiata Group lost 3.2 percent at 6.02 ringgit, while AirAsia fell 3.2 percent to 3.38. British American Tobacco gained 1.8 percent to 64.10 ringgit.

-- Bangkok rose 0.82 percent or 10.08 points to 1,243.92.

Electricity firm EGCO dropped 1.67 percent to 118.00 baht, while medical services company BGH gained 2.78 percent to 111.00 baht.

-- Mumbai rose 0.19 percent or 32.93 points to 17,346.27.

India's third largest software firm Wipro rose 4.43 percent to 377.5 rupees while Bharat Heavy Engineering slid 3.20 percent to 201.35 rupees.