Asian markets closed mixed on Wednesday, amid a muted reaction to China's May trade data, but the energy sector got a boost after oil prices settled above $50 a barrel on Tuesday for the first time in nearly 11 months.
The Nikkei 225 reversed morning losses to close up 155.47 points, or 0.93 percent, at 16,830.92, after the yen weakened against the dollar. The dollar-yen pair traded at 107.06 as of 3:39 p.m. HK/SIN, compared with an earlier session low of 106.7. In the Tuesday session, the dollar/yen traded at levels near 107.9.
Stephen Innes, a senior trader at OANDA Asia Pacific, attributed the dollar/yen's fall to the prospects of lower-for-longer U.S. interest rates and uncertainty over the Bank of Japan's next likely move at its policy meeting later this month. In a note Wednesday, he also said that Japan's policymakers appear to be showing a "lack of urgency," with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe only planning to propose an economic stimulus package in the autumn, after July elections.
Chinese mainland markets closed lower, with the Shanghai composite down 9.34 points, or 0.32 percent, at 2,926.69, and the Shenzhen composite was off by 6.25 points, or 0.32 percent, to 1,918.62. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index was down 30.36 points, or 0.14 percent, at 21,297.88. In South Korea, the Kospi advanced 15.45 points, or 0.77 percent, to 2,027.08.
In Australia, the ASX 200 finished flat at 5,369.97, with a 0.15 percent decline in the financials sub-index that accounts for nearly half of the broader index.
Major banking stocks finished mostly lower, with ANZ down 0.52 percent, Commonwealth Bank of Australia off by 0.45 percent and NAB down 0.45 percent. Westpac shares beat their peers to close up 0.29 percent.
Moody's Investors Service said on Wednesday that Australian banks face increased tail risks from rising house prices in the country. Re-acceleration of house prices and increasing household leverage "raise the banks' sensitivity to downside risk in the housing market, and can lead to potential second-order impacts on broader economic activity."
Earlier, data released showed the value of Australia's home loans for investment in April fell 5 percent from March, but owner-occupied finance rose 1.7 percent on-month on a seasonally adjusted basis, although that was below a Reuters poll forecast for a 2.5 percent rise.
"Looking through the volatility, the data remain consistent with the declines in building approvals over the first half of 2016 and our view of a diminishing tailwind from housing construction over the year and a deeper downturn into 2017," analysts at Goldman Sachs said in a note.