Asian stocks kept pushing in and out of positive territory in a choppy session Wednesday but closed mostly higher as traders took positions ahead of Fed Reserve Ben Bernanke's speech.
At close, the Shanghai Composite lost 1% while the Hang Seng recovered earlier losses to edge up 0.3%. Australia's S&P/ASX All Ordinaries also moved out of the red zone, but finished flat while Mumbai's Sensex ended 0.4% higher.
The Nikkei , which lagged behind earlier in the session, also moved off lows to finish up 0.1%.
Sentiment was cautious after U.S. equities finished lower overnight and as investors awaited some corporate results from the region. Investors were also eyeing U.S. Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke's testimony on the economy later today.
The dollar gained ground before Bernanke's address while the yen weakened against the dollar ahead of a much-antiicipated upper house elections in Japan this weekend, which will be crucial for the future shape of the country's currency.
In other news, the Indian government introducted big-bang foreign direct investment reforms, opening up a host of sectors, including telecom and defence sectors, to greater FDI.
Stocks on the Move
Exporters in Tokyo finished mostly higher. Among the top gainers, Nintendo Co. extended its gains, soaring 6.5% in today's session, while Sharp Corp. rose 4% and Panasonic Corp. added over 2.5%.
Mitsubishi Motors Corp. surged 11.1% amid reports the car manufacturer would hike its dividend payouts.
Resources stocks were also on the higher side -- Inpex Corp. gained 2.2% and Kobe Steel rose 4.1%. Financials, power utilities and retailers, however, lagged behind.
In Hong Kong, coal miners scored robust gains. China Shenhua Energy rose 5.3%, China Coal Energy advanced 3% while Yanzhou Coal Mining was up 1.6%.
Financials were also modestly higher. ICBC and China Construction Bank both edged up around 0.5% each while HSBC Holdings plc. added 0.5% too.
On the mainland, however, losses in financial stocks and liquor companies weighed on the benchmark Shanghai Composite index.
Shanghai-listed China Citic Securities dropped over 3% while China Merchants Securities retreated around 3.2%.
Liqour giant Kweichow Moutai and Jiangsu Yanghe Brewery lost over 25 each.
In Sydney, miners led the field after recent string of losses. BHP Billiton rose 2.3%, Rio Tinto gained 1.1% and Fortescue Metals Group vaulted 6%. Gold miner Newcrest Mining was also higher, up 0.7%.
Troubled surfwear retailer Billabong International soared 34% after the company said it was in talks with prospective bidders for alternative refinancing and asset sale transactions.
In Mumbai, stocks opened higher as investors cheered the government's move to liberalise FDI norms.
Hindustan Unilever soared nearly 10% hitting record high earlier in the session while close competitor ITC rose 2.3%
Other gainers included NTPC (+3.2%), Wipro(+3%), Tata Power (+2%) and Reliance Industries (+1.6%).