Asia Ends Mixed; Bernanke Testimony Watched
Caution prevailed in Asian trade on Tuesday as investors grow concerned about the duration of global monetary stimulus ahead of U.S. Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke's testimony to the U.S Senate.
Amid winners, Japan's Nikkei index hit a fresh closing high at 15,381 after a volatile session and the Shanghai Composite eked out gains for a fifth consecutive session. Elsewhere, the Kospi pared gains after touching a seven-week high and Australia's S&P ASX 200 lost ground on weakness in resources.
"Given the strong rally in global equity markets, a pause for breath is probably not going to cause much of a stir but we remain cautious on the longevity of the rally due to the continuing dichotomy between economic data and risk asset performance," said Mitul Kotecha, head of global markets research Asia at Crédit Agricole in a note.
Central banks resumed their role in the driving seat for markets as the Bank of Japan (BOJ) kicks off a two-day policy review on Tuesday and as investors await Bernanke's comments for clues on when the U.S. central bank could start paring back its bond-buying program.
(Read More: Volatile Bond Market Puts Bank of Japan in a Spin)
Nikkei Posts Gains
The benchmark index reversed earlier losses with a 34 percent gain in shares of Mitusbishi Motors. Investors rushed into the stock on news that it has partnered with Nissan Motor to ramp up market share in the minicar market.
Real estate stocks suffered the brunt of the yen's strength. Tokyo Dome and Tokyu Land slipped over 4 percent each as the Japanese currency continued to trade below 103 per dollar.
Investors will be awaiting the BOJ's policy statement on Wednesday to see if the central bank will take any action on reducing volatility in the Japanese government bond market, where yields have spiked to record levels.
Shanghai Off Highs
The benchmark index hovered near its previous one-month high of 2,309, but gains were capped by shares of heavyweight banking stocks. The sector took a hit after Goldman Sachs sold its entire stake in Hong Kong-listed shares of ICBC.
(Read More: Are Treasurys Falling Out of Favor With China?)
Pudong Development Bank and Bank of China edged down 0.6 percent each.
Australia Down 0.6%
Minutes from the Reserve Bank of Australia's latest policy meeting provided little guidance about the scope for future easing, but revealed that below-potential growth and slowing business investment remained a threat to the local economy.
"Our view is that the cash rate is still more likely than not to be lowered a little further. We have a 25 basis point cut penciled in for later this year," said Justin Fabo, Head of Australian Economics at Australia New Zealand Banking in a note.
Concerns rose over a slowdown in the mining services industry following a slew of profit downgrades with Transfield Services being the latest to do so. Shares of the engineering firm slumped 23 percent after cutting full-year guidance, citing project cuts and deferrals.
(Read More: Why This Week Could See Start of Risk-Off)
Meanwhile, caravan maker Fleetwood fell 25 percent after forecasting lower earnings for the second-half.
Kospi Pares Gains
The benchmark index touched a fresh seven-week high at 1,995 points earlier in the session but moved off those levels to close flat.
Shares of CJ Corp, a holding company of food to entertainment conglomerate CJ Group, fell as much as 4 percent after prosecutors raided the firm on suspicions that it managed a massive slush fund overseas.
— By CNBC.com's Nyshka Chandran. Follow her on Twitter @NyshkaCNBC