Asian stocks were mostly lower on Tuesday, struggling to gain momentum in the absence of fresh market catalysts and amid caution in Japan as investors await the appointment of Japan's next central bank governor.
Former top bureaucrat Toshiro Muto is the leading candidate to head the Bank of Japan as present Governor Masaaki Shirakawa steps down next month, but analysts say Muto's nomination would result in less radical monetary measures than markets are currently anticipating. Expectations of strong easing have helped fuel a rally in the Nikkei, which is up almost 10 percent since the start of the year.
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"Toshiro Muto, Kazumasa Iwata and Haruhiko Kuroda are the three front-runners. Muto is probably seen as less market supportive whilst Iwata would be very good from a yen weakness and stock point of view," remarked Robert Rennie, global head of FX strategy at Westpac Bank.