SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Asian stocks drifted on Monday as investors booked profits from a New Year rally that had pushed markets to multi-month highs, but financial stocks gained after global regulators decided to relax draft plans for tough new bank liquidity rules.
Commodity prices mostly held firm, supported by data showing the U.S. economy continuing on a path of slow but steady recovery that propelled Wall Street stocks to a five-year high.
The dollar sat close to a two-and-a-half-year high against the yen as investors adjusted to the possibility of more monetary stimulus in 2013 from the Bank of Japan and less from the U.S. Federal Reserve.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia Pacific shares outside Japan , which had reached its highest level since August 2011 on Thursday, was flat, while Tokyo's Nikkei share average (.N225) retreated after touching a 23-month high in early trade to stand down 0.2 percent. (.T)
"Investors have been carefully waiting for the timing to take profits as they believed the market can't keep rising," said Yutaka Miura, a senior technical analyst at Mizuho Securities.