Japan's Nikkei share average rose for the fifth straight session on Monday, with investors scooping up straggling blue-chips as they sought further evidence of U.S. economic recovery before pushing the index higher.
The Nikkei .N225 has gained 20 percent so far this year on the back of robust U.S. economic data and liquidity boosting programs by global central banks, taking the benchmark deep into overbought territory with its 14-day relative strength index at 78.8.
We have had very good moves in a lot of names, so people are just taking money off the table right now, a trader at a foreign bank said.
We see inflows in defensives and outflows in cyclicals ... people are positioning themselves more defensively today.
Among the names that succumbed to profit-taking was Sony Corp (6758.T), Canon Inc (7751.T) and Honda Motor Co (7267.T), down between 0.6 percent and 1 percent. Japan Tobacco (2914.T), on the other hand, advanced 2.1 percent.
The Nikkei closed 0.1 percent higher at 10,141.99, after touching an 8-1/2-month intraday high of 10,172.64 and stretching its winning run to the longest since early July.
The market is in wait-and-see mode today as we wait for the next data or news to trade on, said Yutaka Miura, a senior technical analyst at Mizuho Securities.
It would be best for the Nikkei to consolidate around current levels before going higher. The dollar/yen rate is stabilizing around mid-83 yen, so we should see steady moves in tandem with the forex rate, Miura said.
Industrial robot maker Fanuc Corp (6954.T) rose 2 percent to a record high after Citigroup raised its price target and kept its buy rating on the stock.
Komatsu Ltd (6301.T) climbed 2.9 percent after Morgan Stanley held a meeting with the construction machinery maker's CFO Miki Fujitsuka, who the bank said revealed some positives for its outlook.
Topping the Topix core 30 list .TOPXC as the biggest percentage loser was Kansai Electric Power Co (9503.T), sagging 4.2 percent after reports that the city of Osaka, the largest shareholder in the utility, will propose decommissioning all 11 of the firm's nuclear reactors at a shareholder meeting in June.
The broader Topix .TOPX added 0.2 percent to 868.35.
About 1.95 billion shares changed hands on the main board, down from 2.2 billion shares on Friday and hitting its lowest level in two weeks as Tokyo markets are closed on Tuesday for a holiday.
Nomura wrote in a report to clients on Friday that market participants saw a need for risk control owing to worries about near-term overheating in the markets.
We continue to expect laggard high-beta sectors to play catch-up, it said, referring to stocks that are typically highly correlated to broader financial markets.
A string of U.S. housing data is expected to give investors a fresh look at the strength of the recovery in the world's largest economy.
U.S. economic data continues to be solid. Consumer sentiment data slipped on Friday but factory output was steady. Confidence in the U.S. economy will push the Nikkei up to 10,200 even this week, although we will have to watch the housing data this week, said Fujio Ando, senior managing director at Chibagin Asset Management.
Japan's securities subindex .ISECU.T, up 1.8 percent, was the top sectoral performer on the main board on Monday, with Nomura Holdings (8604.T) gaining 2.2 percent and Daiwa Securities Group (8601.T) rising 1.7 percent.
Marubeni Corp (8002.T) advanced 2.4 percent after report in the Nikkei business daily that the trading house and a Japanese state-sponsored fund will buy British wind power engineering company Seajacks International for about $850 million.
Rival trading companies Mitsubishi Corp (8058.T) and Mitsui Co Ltd (8031.T) both gained 0.9 percent.
Mobile gaming operator Gree Inc (3632.T) sagged 4.1 percent and topped the main board as the heaviest traded stock by turnover after it said it capped the amount of money minors can spend on online games.