asian markets

Asian markets remained mixed in a holiday-thin morning session, with Japanese stocks looking to close the quarter on a lacklustre note after disappointing economic data underscored economic weakness.

The benchmark Nikkei average index traded 0.04 percent or 4.52 points to 12331.4 while South Korea's KOSPI was up 0.6 percent or 12.45 points to 2006.0. China's Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.1 percent or 2.74 points to 2239.0.

Markets in Australia and Hong Kong remained closed for Easter holidays.

Asian markets had traded lower in the previous session as investors awaited Cypriot banks to reopen after nearly two weeks of bailout negotiations, amid concerns of a potential run on deposits. But global market sentiments picked up after the lenders resumed operations without much trouble.

Wall Street had ended with record gains earlier, as the Cyprus-triggered eurozone concerns saw a moderate ease and investors looked to buy stocks as the financial quarter drew to a close.

The Japanese market remained weak during the day, looking set to end in the red after a strong quarter.

Sentiments were dampened after official data showed that the country's factory output saw a surprise drop in February while consumer prices declined for the fourth straight month. Industrial output fell 0.1 percent from the previous month, contrasting forecasts of rise while core consumer prices fell 0.3 percent year-on-year.

The weak data comes as the country's government seeks to shore up the economy with bold stimulus measures. It further reinforced views that Bank of Japan will look to take up aggressive monetary easing steps at the policy meet scheduled for the coming week.

Economic reports from South Korea also disappointed. Data from Statistics Korea showed that industrial output in Asia's fourth largest economy contracted for the second consecutive month in February, stoking recovery concerns.

South Korean government, this week, had downgraded its growth forecasts for the current year. The administration is expected to come up with stimulus measures to boost the economy, which has been struggling with weak external demand.

Major Movers

Finance stocks traded lower in Japan. Shares of Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group fell 1.1 percent while Resona Holdings was down 1 percent. Daiwa Securities slipped 2.4 percent.

Electronic major Panasonic dropped 7.2 percent after the company announced restructuring plans for its unprofitable units in order to halt losses, which include businesses such as semiconductors, mobile phones and its now struggling television operations.

In China, banks rebounded after the weak previous session. China Merchants Bank was up 0.2 percent while Bank of China added 1percent.