Asian shares were mixed on Wednesday despite a strong lead from Wall Street as markets awaited testimony from the US Federal Reserve chief, but Tokyo stocks finished at their highest level in five years.
Japanese investors welcomed the weakening yen, with stocks ending up 1.60 percent, or 246.24 points, at 15,627.26, the best finish since late December 2007.
The market maintained early gains after the Bank of Japan (BoJ) wrapped up a two-day meeting with a unanimous vote to keep its monetary policy unchanged, as the country attempts to tackle years of deflation.
Seoul climbed 0.64 percent, or 12.74 points, to finish at 1,993.83, while Sydney ended down 0.28 percent, or 14.7 points, at 5,165.4.
Shanghai closed down 0.12 percent, or 2.71 points, at 2,302.40 on profit-taking after gaining nearly four percent in the past five sessions.
Hong Kong finished down 0.45 percent, or 105.29 points, at 23,261. The start of trading was delayed until the afternoon due to severe rainstorms.
Markets were watching for Fed chairman Ben Bernanke's testimony to Congress later on Wednesday for signs the US central bank might be ready to alter its quantitative easing policy, or to project when and how it might reel in its aggressive bond purchases.
Australia & New Zealand Banking Group said in a note that "we expect Bernanke and the Fed will remain cautious in any tapering of the current $85 billion per month asset-purchase programme".
In early April the BoJ's new management team, hand-picked by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, began a new era of huge asset purchases and massive monetary easing and vowed no let-up in the fight to reverse falling prices.
The central bank said in a statement Wednesday that it would continue with the monetary easing as it targets two percent inflation.
"Such conduct of monetary policy will support the positive movements in economic activity and financial markets, contribute to a rise in inflation expectations, and lead Japan's economy to overcome deflation that has lasted for nearly 15 years," it said.
The bank said the world's third largest economy had already "started picking up" as exports have stopped falling due to recovering overseas economies.
The BoJ statement came after the finance ministry announced a larger-than-expected April trade deficit, with the red ink expanding 69.7 percent on year to 879.9 billion yen ($8.6 billion).
Abe's pro-growth, pro-spending policies have weakened the yen more than 20 percent against the dollar over the past six months and boosted share prices, with a lower yen helping exporters but pushing up import bills.
"The influx of new capital from both domestic and foreign investors has helped prolong the current six-month rally," said Naoki Fujiwara, fund manager at Shinkin Asset Management.
US stocks closed at all-time highs Tuesday with the Dow Jones Industrial Average finishing up 0.34 percent at 15,387.58 after a strong earnings report from Home Depot, and the broad-based S&P 500 adding 0.17 percent to 1,669.16.
The dollar was up against the Japanese currency, fetching 102.85 yen in Tokyo afternoon trade, from 102.47 in New York late Tuesday.
The euro rose to 133.09 yen from 132.26 yen and to $1.2929 from $1.2906.
Oil was down in Asia, with New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in July, dropping 48 cents to $95.70 a barrel. Brent North Sea crude for July delivery shed 34 cents to $103.57.
Gold was at $1,384.40 at 1040 GMT from $1,387.90 late Tuesday.
In other markets:
-- Bangkok lost 0.74 percent or 12.16 points to 1,631.27.
Bangkok Bank rose 0.46 percent to 220.00 baht, while energy giant PTT gained 0.58 percent to 347.00 baht.
-- Jakarta rose 0.37 percent, or 19.24 points, to 5,208.00.
Bank Negara Indonesia gained 0.93 percent to 5,450 rupiah, while Hero Supermarket climbed 2.50 percent to 4,100 rupiah.
-- Manila closed up 0.78 percent or 57.49 points to 7,385.07.
SM Investments Corp gained 1.18 percent to 1,203 pesos and Ayala Land Inc rose 0.56 percent to 35.70 pesos.
-- Mumbai fell 0.25 percent or 49.37 points to 20,062.24 points.
Engineering giant Larsen and Toubro slid 5.57 percent to 1,517.10 rupees, while Tata Power fell 2.16 percent to 90.75 rupees.
-- Kuala Lumpur lost 0.20 percent or 3.50 points to close at 1,783.88.
UEM Land Holdings shed 2.6 percent to 3.37 ringgit, while Hong Leong Financial Group fell 1.8 percent to 15.40.
-- Singapore rose 0.30 percent or 10.47 points to 3,454.37.
Singapore Telecom ended 1.8 percent higher at Sg$4.05 and property developer City Developments eased 0.90 percent to Sg$11.05.
-- Taipei was up 0.19 percent or 15.79 points at 8,398.84.
Hon Hai Precision added 1.29 percent to Tw$78.3 while Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co was 0.44 percent lower at Tw$112.0.
-- Wellington rose 0.42 percent or 19.34 points to 4,610.18.
Fletcher Building was up 1.81 percent at NZ$8.43, Telecom Corp was down 0.62 percent at NZ$2.40 and Air New Zealand was unchanged at NZ$1.54.
-- Dow Jones Newswires contributed to this report --