Most Asian markets moved off early lows, but still ended lower Friday as investors refrained from making big bets ahead of the U.S. Federal Reserve's policy meeting next week.
Mumbai's Sensex also finished 0.2% after pushing in and out of the positive territory several times during the session.
Tokyo's Nikkei, however, recovered earlier losses and finished just near the flat-line (+0.1%) as the dollar stablized to upper 99-level against the yen towards the session-end, as sentiment improved slightly after the Japanese government upgraded its assessment of the domestic economy for the first time in two months, saying the economy was on way to moderate recovery.
Caution seemed to be the key flavour today amid speculations whether the Federal Reserve would announce any reduction in its monthly asset purchase program at its next meeting, and if so what the quantum would be and how it would affect global equity markets. The central bank is scheduled to begin its two-day monetary policy meeting on September 17th.
Investors were also eyeing some more economic data from the U.S. later today, which would probably bolster or weaken the Fed's case for a rollout of its quantitative easing program.
Later in the global trading day, data on U.S. retail sales, producer price inflation and consumer sentiment was expected provide further cues on the health of the world's largest economy.
Stocks on the Move
Some exporters in Tokyo pared early losses and finished above the flatline.
Car manufacturers did a U-turn and scored modest gains. Mazda Motor Corp. added 0.7% while Toyota Motor Corp and Nissan Motor Corp. edged up 0.2% each.
On the flipside, however, Sharp Corp. tumbled over4%, Advantest Corp. erased 1.1% and Toshiba Corp. gave up 1%.
In corporate news, telecom giant Softbank Corp. said it would receive a 1.98 trillion yen syndicated loan to refinance borrowings for its acquisition of Sprint Corp. Its shares ended down 1%.
Automobile parts manufacturer Denso Corp. said it will invest 21 million euros to upgrade two research units in Germany by 2015. Shares of Denso were up 1.7%.
Mitsubishi Electric Corp. rallied 1.1% after acquiring a Brazilian elevator manufacturer for around 2.24 billion yen.
Shares of Tokyo Dome Corp. gained 1.9% after the company posted a 54% hike in its Feb-July net profit
In Hong Kong, resources stocks were under sharp selling pressure as investors booked profits after string of gains in the recent sessions.
Angang Steel plunged 4.3%, Jiangxi Copper also plummetted 4.3% while Aluminum Corp. of China slumped 4.5%.
Property developers added to the losses -- Poly Property Group fell 1.4% and Sun Hung Kai Properties declined 1.3% after it gave a lower sales outlook for the year.
Financials were also on the losers' side with largest lender ICBC giving up 0.4%, China Construction Bank was down 0.8% while Agricultural Bank of China dropped 2%.
Banks in Sydney were listless too. Top banks NAB and Westpac Banking Group were off around 1% each while ANZ erased 0.3%.
Miners also drifted lower as commodity prices ticked lower overnight. Leading miner BHP Billiton lost 1% while Rio Tinto retreated 1.7%. Gold miner Newcrest Mining erased 1.7% too.
Department store Myer Holdings extended losses, plunging 4% after posting lower annual profits the prior day.
In Mumbai, stocks see-sawed between gains and losses, but finally succumbed to selling pressure. Top losers on the 30-share benchmark index included IT firms, private lenders and some defensive stocks.
Wipro lost 3.6%, Tata Steel fell 1.6%, ITC eased 1.3%, Infosys declined 1.2% while ICICI Bank and HDFC Bank were off around 1% each.