The prevailing uncertainty over Cyprus and the bleak economic backdrop weighed on the euro, which was trading 0.2 percent lower at $1.2900 and near its lowest level against the dollar in 2013.

U.S. stocks were also feeling the pressure, with the Dow Jones industrial average down 0.4 percent at 14,456 and the broader S&P 500 index the same rate lower at 1,552. Solid weekly jobless claims and existing home sales figures did little to inspire buying.

Earlier in Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 index surged 1.3 percent to 12,635.69, its highest close since September 2008. South Korea's Kospi slipped 0.4 percent to 1,950.82 while Hong Kong's Hang Seng ended 0.1 percent down at 22,225.88.

Oil prices drifted lower too with the benchmark New York rate down 73 cents to $92.77 per barrel.

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