Hong Kong (AFP) - Asian markets mostly rose on Thursday in cagey trade following a positive close on Wall Street and before the congressional testimony of US Federal Reserve head Janet Yellen later in the day.
Australia's main index was hit by a slump in Qantas shares after the national carrier said it would slash 5,000 jobs under restructuring plans as it announced a half-year net loss of more than US$200 million.
Sydney fell 0.47 percent, or 25.6 points, to 5,411.4.
In Sydney, struggling Qantas slumped nine percent after it said it will axe 5,000 jobs, freeze pay, defer aircraft deliveries and suspend growth at Asian offshoot Jetstar while warning of more pain to come.
The airline, battling record fuel costs and fierce competition from subsidised rivals, posted an interim net loss of Aus$235 million (US$210 million) in the six months to December 31.
In Tokyo, the Nikkei-225 index dipped 0.32 percent or 47.86 points to 14,923.11, while the Topix index of all first section shares fell 0.65 percent, or 8.00 points, to 1,217.35.
"Foreigners are not anxious to bid the market up with no overt catalysts, while domestic players are extremely loath to buy until the Nikkei falls to 14,500 or lower," said an equity trading director at a foreign brokerage.
Panasonic rose 2.62 percent to 1,292 yen on news that it is involved in plans by US electric vehicles start-up Tesla Motors to build a so-called "Gigafactory" for advanced electric car batteries.
Real estate firms saw increasing selling, with Sumitomo Realty & Development down 3.02 percent at 4,141 yen and Daiwa House off 2.68 percent at 1,850 yen.
Games giant Nintendo fell 3.92 percent to 12,490.
Hong Kong's benchmark Hang Seng Index jumped 390.74 points or 1.74 percent to end at a six-week high of 22,828.18.
Technology shares helped the market higher led by a 5.2 percent rise in Tencent Holdings Ltd, which has the second-largest weighting in the index.
The Chinese Internet company hired Barclays to advise it on the potential purchase of a stake in online retailer JD.com Inc, The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.
China bank stocks were also on the rise in Hong Kong after analysts deemed their valuations too low.
Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and China Construction Bank rose 2 percent and 1.9 pecent respectively.
The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index rose 6.10 points or 0.30 percent to 2,047.35 on turnover.
But the Shenzhen Composite Index, which tracks stocks on China's second exchange, fell 1.76 percent, or 19.25 points, to 1,075.48
Oil prices fell. New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate for April delivery, was down 29 cents at $102.30, while Brent North Sea crude for April fell 21 cents to $109.31.
Gold fetched $1,324.17 an ounce at 0810 GMT, compared to $1,340.05 late Wednesday.
In other markets:
-- Seoul finished 0.39 percent higher, gaining 7.66 points to 1,978.43.
-- Mumbai was closed for a public holiday.
-- Taipei rose 0.45 percent, or 38.72 points, to 8,639.58.
Smartphone maker HTC fell 1.81 percent to Tw$136.0 while Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. climbed 0.47 percent to Tw$108.0.
-- Wellington fell 0.18 percent, or 8.86 points, to 4,964.34.
Air New Zealand was up 0.86 percent at NZ$1.765 and Fletcher Building slipped 2.07 percent to NZ$9.47.
-- Manila closed 0.51 percent higher, adding 32.19 points to 6,354.79.
Universal Robina gained 2.19 percent to 140 pesos while Megaworld Corp. rose 1.22 percent to 4.15 pesos.