Asian markets recovered from early weakness to end mostly higher Monday as investors took positions ahead of this week's U.S. Federal Reserve policy decision.
Japan's Nikkei led the gains, ending up 2.7% as the yen weakened after its biggest weekly advance in four years.
On the other side, mainland China's Shanghai Composite gave up the day's gains, ending 0.3% lower.
Trading was choppy today and after some initial wariness, traders picked up recently battered stocks eyeing some key events later in the week.
The U.S. Federal Reserve is scheduled to start a two-day policy meeting on Tuesday and markets are looking for more clues as to whether the central bank would start scaling back its massive monetary stimulus measures, and its implications on equities.
Stocks on the move
In Tokyo, defensives gained ground with pharmaceuticals, retailers and power utilities finding support.
J. Front Retailing enhanced 3.7%, Takeda Pharmaceuticals rose more than 3.5% while Tokyo Electric Power added 1.5%.
Exporters, too, scored higher on the back of a softer yen. Among top gainers, Nintendo Co. soared nearly 8%, Panasonic Corp. improved over 4% while Advantest Corp. tacked on 2.7%.
Resources stocks supported with JFE Holdings adding 3.5%, Kobe Steel gaining 3.3% and Inpex Corp. rising 3%.
Globally-exposed firms in Hong Kong, too, were on the buyers' list. Foxconn International Holdings soared 3.3%, YGM Trading Ltd. bounced 5%, Li & Fung Ltd. climbed 0.5% while Esprit Holdings edged up 0.4%.
Also on the upside were property developers. Cheung Kong Infrastructure Holdings vaulted 3% amid reports that a consortium of Li Ka-shing's companies has bought a waste management company in Netherlands. Cheung Kong Holdings Ltd. rose 3.6% and Power Assets Holdings Ltd. added 3% on heels of the news.
Other property firms were also higher. Sino Land Company rose nearly 4% while Sun Hung Kai Properties traded up 2.8%.
Banking stocks were also in the green -- ICBC gained 1.3%, China Construction Bank scored 2.4% higher while Agricultural Bank notched up around 2%.
Mumbai-listed banks were also in focus in the wake of the central bank's interest rate decision today. State-run SBI pared early losses to finish up 1% while HDFC Bank edged up 0.3% after the RBI left monetary policy unchanged, in line with expectations.
Auto firms and other interest-rate sensitive sectors also geared up. Mahindra & Mahindra accelerated 4.4%, Bajaj Auto added 2.5% while Hero MotoCorp. advanced 1.2%.
Financials in Sydney also traded stronger today ANZ finished 2.3% higher while Westpac Banking and NAB added 1.8% each.
But miners were listless. Top miner BHP Billiton slipped 0.3% while Rio Tinto followed in lockstep, down 0.6%. Fortescue Metals Group fell 2.7%.