Japan's Nikkei share average edged up on Wednesday morning after U.S. shares extended their gains, while investors turned to to individual shares such as Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha, after a report it would double its return on equity in the mid-term.
The Nikkei rose 0.1 percent to 15,531.90 in mid-morning trade after falling 0.6 percent on the previous day.
Analysts said that investors held back from taking big bets on major exporters because the weak yen trend has paused, with activity generally around companies with specific news of their own.
Shipping company Kawasaki Kisen jumped 5.1 percent to a seven-month high after the Nikkei newspaper said that Kawasaki Kisen will target a return on equity (ROE) of 10 percent and earnings per share of 40 yen in its new five-year medium-term management plan.
Since the Tokyo Stock Exchange in January launched the JPX-Nikkei 400 Index, which focuses on stocks with higher ROE, the index has attracted attention also because Japan's Government Pension Investment Fund adopted the JPX-400 as a benchmark for some of its passive stock investments.
"Foreign investors didn't believe that Japanese companies will actually raise their ROEs, but when a specific report like this comes out, it raises sentiment," said Takuya Takahashi, a strategist at Daiwa Securities. "It stands out amid a lack of macro factors."
He said that an average Japanese company has an ROE of 9 percent.
Also outperforming the market was Otsuka Holdings, which jumped 5.4 percent on a five-year mid-term plan citing earnings recovery and cost-cutting.
Exporters were weak as investors took profits after the dollar traded at 104.10 yen, holding under Monday's 7-month peak of 104.49.
Toyota Motor Corp and Honda Motor Co both fell 0.3 percent, and Canon Inc shed 0.1 percent.
The broader Topix added 0.1 percent, and the JPX-Nikkei Index 400 was flat at 11,686.84.