Asian shares edged up on Friday as nervous investors took comfort from plans for coordinated action by major central banks to stabilize markets if Sunday's election in Greece results in turmoil.
Global markets have been volatile this week amid uncertainty about the outcome of the poll, which could set Greece on a path out of the euro zone and increase the likelihood of financial contagion engulfing other weak economies in the bloc.
The FTSE CNBC Asia 100 Index which measures markets across Asia, added 0.6 percent.
Japan's Nikkei share average firmed, but gains on a report that central banks will take action to prevent a credit squeeze if turmoil hits the markets was limited by bearish sentiment ahead of the pivotal Greek election.
Investors cut their exposure to Europe and focused on stocks driven by domestic demand such as Fast Retailing, convenience store operator Lawson and pharmaceuticals.
The Nikkei rose 0.3 percent to 8,595.88 while the broader Topix also gained 0.3 percent to 727.88 after both indexes entered negative territory in early trading.
DeNa was the top gainer, shooting up 14 percent as the second most-traded stock by turnover after the social gaming site operator said on Thursday it will buy back up to 10 percent of its outstanding shares - 20 billion yen worth. Its competitor Gree was the most-traded share with a gain of 7.5 percent.
Fast Retailing rose 1.2 percent while Lawson put on 1.7 percent, ahead of the retailing sector's gain of 0.7 percent. Pharmaceuticals were strong, buoyed by a 2.5 percent gain for both Nippon Shinyaku and Kaken Pharmaceutical.
The Bank of Japan said during the midday break that it would not be introducing any further monetary easing following its two-day policy meeting, potentially disappointing those hoping that for a coordinated response from central banks to the euro zone crisis.
Seoul shares fell, underperforming Asian peers as the market nervously awaited a key weekend election in Greece that could decide its future in the euro zone. A 3 percent decline in index heavyweight Samsung Electronics added to the pressure.
The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) [.KS11 1861.85 -9.63 (-0.51%) ] was down 0.8 percent at 1,857.35 points, still poised for fourth consecutive weekly gain if the share average was to close at this level.
Samsung Electronics, which accounts for 17 percent of the KOSPI's total market capitalization, fell 3.1 percent after a 10 minute stoppage of its LCD production line due to a power outage. Samsung, the world's largest producer of liquid crystal displays, declined to reveal any damage estimates from the disruption.
Hyundai Heavy Industries, the world's biggest shipyard, shares fell 1.7 percent after refiner Hyundai Oilbank, in which it holds a 91.1 percent controlling stake, said it was dropping plans for a $2 billion initial public offering due to unfavorable financial market conditions.
SK Hynix fell 2 percent after the IFR reported that Woori Bank was selling a 1.4 percent stake in the world's second-largest memory chipmaker for $202 million.
Australian shares rose 0.2 percent, helped by news that major central banks were ready to provide liquidity to stabilize financial markets in case of turmoil following weekend elections in Greece.
BHP Billiton was 0.2 percent lower. Analysts flagged that BHP's aluminum assets may face write-downs of upto A$2 billion. Rival Rio Tinto was up 0.1 percent.
Whitehaven Coal, which has been approached by top shareholder Nathan Tinkler to take the coal miner private, was up 5 percent, taking gains to a fourth straight day.
Gaming firm Echo Entertainment's shares were in trading halt. The firm unveiled a A$454 million equity raising to pay down debt and help bolster its high-roller business as it vies with billionaire James Packer to win Asian players.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index [AU;XJO 4057.20 15.00 (+0.37%)] was up 9.3 points at 4,051.5. The benchmark fell 0.5 percent on Thursday to its weakest close since June 4.
New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index rose 0.5 percent to 3,3431.5 points.
Hong Kong shares rose in light turnover ahead of crucial Greek elections at the weekend.
The Hang Seng Index [.HSI 19052.96 244.56 (+1.3%) ] and the China Enterprises Index [.HSCE 9645.74 127.15 (+1.34%) ] of top locally listed mainland firms both advanced 1.2 percent.
Esprit [0330.HK 9.97 0.74 (+8.02%) ] rebounded 8.3 percent after the outgoing chief executive, Ronald van der Vis, reassured investors that a costly restructuring is on track despite his and the company chairman's resignation.
In the mainland, the Shanghai Composite [.SSEC 2299.77 3.82 (+0.17%) ] added 0.5 percent to 2,307.6.
But shares in Inner Mongolia Yili Industrial Group [600887.SS 21.85 -2.43 (-10.01%) ], one of China's top dairy producers, fell 10 percent after the company announced a recall of baby formula that inspectors found tainted with "unusual" levels of mercury.
In Southeast Asia, Singapore's Straits Times Index [.FTSTI 2787.88 14.07 (+0.51%)] and Malaysia's KLCI [.KLSE 1575.12 4.18 (+0.27%)] both inched higher, up 0.2 and 0.3 percent respectively.
Source Reuters with CNBC.com