Asian stocks ended mixed on Wednesday with Japan's benchmark index up 2 percent, outperforming its peers, which traded flat despite a positive lead from global equities.
U.S. stocks closed higher on Tuesday, with the S&P 500 halting a three-session drop, after the U.S. trade deficit narrowed more-than-expected as oil imports fell and exports rose. Attention now turns to Wednesday's release of the ADP Research Institute's corporate payrolls reports and minutes from the Federal Reserve's December meeting.
Across the Atlantic, European shares rose after inflation data for the euro zone came in lower than expected, increasing the pressure on the European Central Bank (ECB) to announce stimulus measures at its policy meeting this week.
(Read more: Is it Asia's turn for austerity?)
Nikkei up 1.9%
(Read more: Why wages in Japan are set to rise: Shinzo Abe)
Convenience stores were in the spotlight on the back of strong earnings growth. Seven & I jumped 6 percent after posting a record operating profit for March-November while Family Mart ended 2.8 percent higher after operating profit rose 0.4 percent in the same period.
Shanghai slips 0.1%
China's benchmark Shanghai Composite erased early gains to end in negative territory due to sharp declines in commodity stocks.
Shandong Gold and Zhongjin Gold fell 4 and 2.3 percent, respectively, after bullion prices fell while Baoshan Steel lost over 3 percent on the back of tepid copper prices.
(Read more: Macau casino stocks set for 'watershed' year)
Sydney ends flat
Australia's benchmark S&P ASX 200 index ended unchanged from the previous day's two-week low after total job vacancies fell 1.7 percent in the three months to November, revealing weakness in the labor market.
Miners were unable to get a boost after data showed iron ore exports to China from Port Hedland rose an annual 19.4 percent in December, bringing total 2013 exports to a record 256 million tons. Fortescue Metals and Rio Tinto lost nearly 1 percent each.
(Read more: Will gold be 2014's comeback kid?)
Drugmaker Sirtex was the top gainer on the index, up 15.6 percent after sales grew an annual 18.7 percent in the past quarter.
Kospi little changed
South Korean shares ended just below the flat line, breaking two straight days of gains, as the yen resumed it's decline. Caution also set in ahead of the Bank of Korea's policy decision on Thursday. Analysts widely expect the central bank keep rates unchanged at its first meeting of the year.
Index heavyweight Samsung Electronics shed 1 percent, one day after providing weak fourth-quarter earnings guidance.
India up 0.2%
The benchmark Sensex index broke its five-day losing streak, posting its first gain of the year, on expectations that a weaker rupee will boost earnings.
— By CNBC.com's Nyshka Chandran. Follow her on Twitter @NyshkaCNBC