LONDON (CNNfn) - Asia's major stock markets closed in mixed form Thursday as a weakening yen outweighed the impact of Wednesday's slump on Wall Street and continuing concern over Japan's economic recovery.
Blue-chip indexes in Tokyo and Singapore gained ground and Taipei reached a 10-year high, though Hong Kong suffered a late sell-off to close narrowly down.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 index in Tokyo closed up almost 1 percent, or 192 points, at 19,791.40, lifted by export-sensitive stocks as the yen weakened by about 0.75 percent to trade at 110.10.
Markets showed little reaction to an announcement by the rating agency Moody's Investors Service Thursday that it has placed Japan's sovereign debt rating under review for possible downgrade.
In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index closed down 62 points, or 0.36 percent, at 16,981.23 in a volatile session that saw the index climb as high as 17,229.
Singapore's Straits Times index ended 0.8 percent higher at 2,230.05 as technology stocks provided the main lift.
Wall Street on Wednesday had turned in its first negative performance of the week. Blue-chip stocks fell sharply, leaving the Dow Jones industrial average nursing a 1.5 percent decline, while the broader S&P 500 lost 1 percent. The technology-rich Nasdaq Composite managed a narrow 6-point gain to close at 4,427.65.
In Japan, The Nikkei closed just off its session high Thursday, strengthening in the afternoon session despite the Moody's announcement, which reflected an increase in public debt used to reflate the economy.
The yen's decline boosted exporters, including auto makers, with Toyota Motor rising 5.3 percent, Mazda Motor up 2.9 percent and Honda Motor up 1.3 percent. Electronics manufacturer Hitachi gained 2 percent and Sony Corp. closed 3.6 percent ahead, lifted by reports it is considering a link-up with Intel (INTC: Research, Estimates) to develop the next generation of household appliances.
Financial stocks were the biggest drag on the index, remaining volatile in the aftermath of last week's decision by the Tokyo city government to impose a new tax on institutions. Sakura Bank was worst hit, down 8.6 percent, while Fuji Bank lost 4 percent.
Hong Kong investors continued to focus on the takeover tussle for C&W HKT, the largest fixed-line and cellular phone operator, whose shares jumped 6.3 percent. Internet investor Pacific Century CyberWorks added 1.85 percent.
Hutchsion Whampoa gained 1 percent and Cheung Kong (Holdings), which may tie with PCCW to bid for the telecoms operator, added 3.5 percent.
Financial stocks remained buoyant throughout the session ahead of earnings statements due at the end of the month. Industry bellwether HSBC Holdings rose 0.5 percent, lifted by speculation about a possible approach from Citigroup (C: Research, Estimates).
However, the market was also pegged back by some weak property shares, with Henderson Land off 2.1 percent.
A late burst by Singapore Telecom lifted the Straits Times index at the close. The telecom operator, which is seeking a merger with C&W HKT, gained 2 percent to recover recent weakness.
Tech players Creative and Datacraft both gained more than 3 percent and DBS Group, Singapore's largest bank, ended 1 percent ahead.
Among smaller markets, Taiwan's Weighted index was the best performer, climbing 1.37 percent to close at a 10-year high of 10,202.20 as electronics components boosted the market.
In Mumbai, a rally in tech stocks lifted the BSE-30 by almost 2 percent to close at 5,835.17 to end three sessions of declines.
The Kospi benchmark index in Seoul also moved strongly ahead, gaining 2 percent to close at 897.52, though it remains around 3 percent down on the week.
The PHS Composite in Manila ended 1.3 percent lower at 1,869.71 as an insider-dealing scandal continued to pull overseas funds out of the market.
The All Ordinaries in Sydney ended 3 points lower at 3,144.18 as media giant News Corp. retreated from recent gains. Weak economic growth data led the JSX in Jakarta to slump 3.5 percent, ending the session at 600.17.
The Set in Bangkok suffered another telecom sell-off to close down 4 percent at 405.81 amid fears that the recent decline could destabilize plans for corporate restructuring.
The KLSE Composite in Kuala Lumpur gained 0.8 percent to finish at 1,006.82.
-- from staff and wire reports