TSE, Tokyo, Japan
Most Asian bourses trade higher despite a lack of cues. (Reuters)

Asian markets outside Korea and India traded higher on 26 May despite lack of fresh cues from within and outside the region.

The Japanese Nikkei finished 0.12%, or 23.71 points, higher at 20,437.48.

The Shanghai Composite finished 2.02%, or 97.10 points, higher at 4,910.90.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng finished 0.92%, or 257.03 points, higher at 28,249.86.

Australia's S&P/ASX finished 0.91%, or 51.90 points, higher at 5773.40.

South Korea's Kospi finished 0.12%, or 2.60 points, lower at 2,143.50.

India's S&P BSE Sensex finished 0.41%, or 112.47 points, lower at 27,531.41.

Market movements

The Nikkei and the Shanghai Composite hit fresh multi-year highs.

The Hang Seng was buoyed by a new cross-border investment scheme announced over the weekend. The mainland plans to roll out a mutual fund recognition scheme with Hong Kong. The scheme will allow funds domiciled in Hong Kong and China to be sold in each others' market starting 1 July, Reuters reported.

Elsewhere, analysts at Patersons Securities attributed the ASX rally to the "inexorable climb" in China's equity market, alongside upbeat local stock-specific developments.

Bernard Aw, IG's market strategist, wrote in a note to clients: "Although there are concerns that the bull run in Chinese shares is not matched by strong economic growth, the uptrend momentum remains strong. I maintain my bullish longer-term view of the Chinese markets, but substantial pullbacks may materialize given its retail-driven nature."

Sean Tuffy, head of regulatory intelligence at BBH, said in a note: "Despite the relatively low key announcement, the launch of the Mainland-Hong Kong Mutual Recognition of Funds (MRF) initiative is an important milestone in the cross-border fund industry. We expect the MRF initiative to evolve into an important fund structure for asset managers globally and create a launch pad for Hong Kong to establish itself as a global cross-border fund hub.

"BBH's assessment suggests that the Hong Kong/China mutual recognition scheme could develop into a $400bn market in the next five to ten years."

Company stocks

In Tokyo, Suntory Beverage and Food lost 1.74%, after news that the soft-drink maker will buy Japan Tobacco's vending machine businesses for about ¥150bn.

In Shanghai, China Shipbuilding Industry added 9.98%.

In Hong Kong, billionaire Pan Sutong's Goldin Properties Holdings rocketed 44.09% while Goldin Financial Holdings jumped 8.27%.

Property developer China Vanke finished 5.495 higher while the Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing jumped 5.38%.

In Sydney, Fortescue Metals surged 10.60% after the Australian Financial Review reported that the iron ore miner had held discussions to obtain investment from Chinese companies and that "Chinese-linked companies have applied to the Foreign Investment Review Board seeking permission for an investment involving" Fortescue.

Tap Oil gained 2.94% while Beach Energy added 2.24%. Westpac Banking gained 2.09%.

In Seoul, Samsung C&T surged 14.83% on news that the general trade and construction firm will be acquired by Samsung's de facto holding company Cheil Industries, which has interests from fashion to theme parks.

Kepco Plant Service & Engineering fell 4.88% while Kepco Engineering & Construction Company lost 2.62%.

Construction conglomerate Hyundai Development lost 2.62% after news that it will partner with Hotel Shilla to open a new duty-free store in downtown Seoul. By contrast, Hotel Shilla gained 1.80%.

In Mumbai, Nestle India lost 1.97%. The stock was pulled down by news that the Food Safety and Drug Administration (FDA) in the northern Uttar Pradesh state could file a case against the firm, in a week's time, over suspected high lead content in the firm's Maggi noodles.