asian markets

Asian markets gained in the morning session led by Japanese stocks after media reports indicated that the Bank of Japan could get a pro-stimulus governor.

The Nikkei average index gained 1.94 percent or 220.44 points to 11606.38 while Australia's S&P/ASX 200 was up 0.72 percent or 36.30 points to 5054.40.

China's Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.27 percent or 6.24 points to 2320.41. Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 0.07 percent or 15.97 points to 22798.41.

South Korea's benchmark KOSPI eased 0.03 percent or 0.65 points to 2018.24.

Financial markets across the region are keeping a close watch on the developments over the Bank of Japan's governor decision, which is expected to happen this week. Media reports over the weekend had suggested that the Asian Development Bank president could take up the post.

Kuroda, an aggressive monetary easing advocate, would be an ideal choice for the government, which is seeking to shore up Japan's ailing economy with solid stimulus measures. The yen extended its weakness against the dollar, trading at 94.12 per dollar.

Chinese markets saw moderate concerns after HSBC's preliminary Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) showed that manufacturing in the world's second largest economy grew at a slower rate in February. The flash PMI stood at 50.4, a four-month low, after a final reading of 52.3 in January.

Traders are awaiting the Italian election outcome amid concerns of a stable government. The poll results are set to have a major impact on eurozone's financial recovery efforts. Moody's decision to downgrade Britain's rating is expected to have an impact on government bonds and the sterling.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's testimony is also set for this weekend. After the recent policy meeting-minutes that showed differences among committee members on the current stimulus plan, investors will be waiting to know Bernanke's concerns on the matter.

Seoul shares swung between gains and losses ahead of the inauguration of the country's next president, who has indicated interest to weaken the local currency.

Major Movers

Metal stocks traded higher in Tokyo. JFE Holdings rose 6.50 percent while Kobe Steel added 5.79 percent Pacific Metals added 4.77 percent. Japanese exporters gained on the weaker yen, with Citizen Holdings rising 3.96 percent and Konica Minolta Holdings adding 3.51 percent.

Property stocks traded lower in Hong Kong as concerns on government curbs for price control weighed on sentiments. New World Development Company was down 2.11 percent while Sino Land and Sun Hung Kai Properties slipped 1.92 and 1.84 percent respectively.