Asia Stocks Mixed After China Data; Nikkei Up
Most Asian stock markets closed in positive territory on Monday with a weaker yen propelling Japan's benchmark Nikkei index to a fresh five-and-a-half-year peak, while the Shanghai Composite pared losses following a raft of lower-than-expected economic data from the mainland.
Official data from China revealed that industrial output in April rose 9.3 percent from a year earlier while fixed-asset investment grew 20.6 percent from a year ago, both slightly below expectations. The results confirmed expectations that the government may take policy action to support the economy.
(Read More: China Sets Tone in Busy Week for Asia Markets)
Forex in Focus
The Australian dollar teetered just above parity against the U.S dollar after dipping below that level over the weekend for the first time in 11 months.
(Read More: Feeling the Pain – Aussie Dollar Slips Below Parity)
Meanwhile, the yen weakened to a new four-and-a-half year low against the greenback, after finance officials from the Group of Seven (G-70) gave Japan's ultra-loose monetary policies a green light at a meeting over the weekend.
Nikkei Nears 15,000
Shares of Panasonic surged 7 percent after forecasting operating profit to rise 55 percent in the current business year as it winds down its consumer electronics operations and focuses on selling electronic equipment to other businesses.
(Read More: Lew Says Japan Must Respect Rules on Yen)
Securities rose across the board with Nomura jumping 9 percent and Daiwa Securities rallying 8 percent on optimism that commission fees will increase from the booming market.
Kospi Near 1,950
The benchmark index pared losses after hitting a fresh two-week low at 1,935 points earlier in the session. Exporters like Hyundai Motor fell 0.2 percent amid concerns about the impact of a lower Japanese currency on their overseas sales.
Pessimism over the yen overshadowed declines in the Korean won, which earlier touched a three-week low against the U.S dollar at the 1,116 handle.
Meanwhile, shares of Dongyang Engineering & Construction spiked 114 percent after the company announced on Friday that there were two bidders for the firm.
Caution over Tuesday's release of the federal budget kept investors on the sidelines as expectations grow for a deficit to be announced.
"We expect revenue shortfalls running at around A$17 billion a year to have blown the 2012-13 budget out to a deficit of A$15 billion," Shane Oliver, chief economist at AMP Capital in Sydney said in a note.
Gold miners Medusa Mining and Perseus Mining tumbled 7 percent each, tracking losses in gold prices.
Shanghai Down 0.2%
Chinese lenders led the Shanghai Composite lower after data from the central bank showed April new loans were down from more than a trillion yuan the month before. Bank of Communications lost over 1 percent.
Meanwhile, Ping An Insurance dived over 2 percent after a three-month ban was imposed on its brokerage unit for helping list a fraudulent Chinese company.
— By CNBC.com's Nyshka Chandran. Follow her on Twitter