Hong Kong (AFP) - Asian markets were mixed on Friday after Federal Reserve chief Janet Yellen provided an upbeat view of the US economy and hinted the bank could ease up on its stimulus taper if the growth outlook weakens.
Tokyo's benchmark Nikkei-225 index dropped 82.04 points or 0.55 percent to 14,841.07, while the Topix index of all first-section issues lost 0.47 percent, or 5.69 points, to 1,211.66.
"The market is naturally nervous about the Fed remaining steadfast about taking the training wheels off the wobbling economy," said CLSA equity strategist Nicholas Smith, noting Yellen's acknowledgement of signs of softness in the economy.
"Frankly, I don't think she'll take her foot off the brakes (on stimulus) unless the data give her a very strong reason to, however," he told Dow Jones Newswires.
Daiwa Securities chief technical strategist Eiji Kinouchi also said: "The lack of transparency with the Ukraine political crisis and other factors are translating into a lower US Treasury yields and a weaker dollar."
Automakers were down. Honda Motor fell 1.40 percent to 3,647 yen, and Toyota slipped 1.18 percent to 5,839 yen.
Sony rose 1.30 percent to 1,780 yen following news reports that it plans to sell its former headquarters and other properties at a premier Tokyo site that once served as the control tower for its sprawling operations.
Reaction was muted to a raft of Japanese government data showing inflation saw a year-on-year rise for the eighth straight month in January -- largely on higher energy bills -- while factory output rose 4.0 percent on-month.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index edged up 8.78 points or 0.04 percent to end at 22,836.96 on turnover of HK$76.97 billion (US$9.93 billion).
HSBC added 0.43 percent to HK$82.25 and Henderson Land Development was up 0.69 percent at HK$43.50, while Cheung Kong Holdings advanced 0.91 percent to HK$121.60. Energy giant CNOOC slipped 0.31 percent to HK$12.72 and China Mobile fell 0.27 percent to HK$73.75.
Chinese shares ended up 0.44 percent. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index rose 8.95 points to 2,056.30 on turnover of 95.7 billion yuan ($15.5 billion). However, the index fell 2.72 percent over the week.
The Shenzhen Composite Index, which tracks stocks on China's second exchange, rose 1.43 percent, or 15.39 points, to 1,090.87 on turnover of 132.5 billion yuan. It dropped 3.89 percent this week.
A nearly one percent fall in China's yuan currency against the US dollar initially spooked investors in the morning, but the stockmarket later recovered.
Growing expectations that the annual meeting of the legislature starting next week will yield positive economic polices also offered support, analysts said.
But Guo Lei, analyst with Zheshang Securities, told Dow Jones Newswires: "Investors are worried about a weakening economy, especially after manufacturing data was not too good in January and property prices in areas like Hangzhou (city) and Jiangsu (province) are showing declines."
Investors' eyes are on the release over the weekend of Chinese manufacturing activity data, following a disappointing couple of months that have indicated the sector is shrinking.
Sydney was off 0.12 percent, or 6.6 points, at 5,404.8. Seoul was flat, nudging up 1.56 points to 1,979.99.
Taipei was closed for a public holiday.
- Dollar falls below 102 yen -
In Tokyo the greenback sank to 101.72 yen, compared with 102.15 yen in New York Thursday.
The euro bought 139.47 yen and $1.3712 against 140.05 yen and $1.3710.
In Japan official data showed consumer inflation saw a year-on-year rise for the eighth straight month in January -- largely on higher energy bills -- while factory output rose 4.0 percent on-month.
Oil prices fell. New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for April delivery, eased 44 cents to $101.96 in afternoon trade, while Brent North Sea crude for April slid 19 cents to $108.77.
Gold fetched $1,329.05 an ounce at 1050 GMT, compared with $1,324.17 late Thursday.
In other markets:
-- Mumbai rose 0.63 percent, or 133.13 points, to end at 21,120.12 points.
Jaiprakash Power Ventures gained 12.26 percent or 1.81 rupees to 16.57 rupees per share and Piramal Enterprises rose 7.26 percent, or 37.55 rupees, to 555.00 rupees a share.
-- Bangkok added 0.55 percent, or 7.28 points, to 1,325.33.
Siam Cement gained 2.38 percent to 430 baht, while oil company PTT rose 2.09 percent to 293 baht.
-- Kuala Lumpur closed up 0.22 percent, or 4.0 points, at 1,835.66.
Budget carrier AirAsia rose 2.8 percent to 2.55 ringgit, while Telekom Malaysia added 1.4 percent to 5.67. Hong Leong Capital lost 2.3 percent to 9.36 ringgit.
-- Singapore closed up 0.45 percent, or 14.04 points, at 3,110.78.
Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation eased 0.21 percent to Sg$9.56, while vehicle distributor Jardine Cycle and Carriage rose 3.02 percent to Sg$39.24.
-- Jakarta ended up 1.12 percent, or 51.28 points, at 4,620.22.
Auto company Astra International gained 3.73 percent to 6,950 rupiah, while palm oil firm Wilmar Cahaya Indonesia fell 3.01 percent to 1,290 rupiah.
-- Manila closed 1.11 percent higher, adding 70.20 points, to 6,424.99.
JG Summit gained 1.63 percent to 46.90 pesos while Ayala Land rose 4.45 percent to 30.50 pesos.
-- Wellington rose 0.52 percent, or 25.70 points, to 4,990.04.
Air New Zealand was up 0.6 percent at NZ$1.775 and Metlifecare fell 0.2 percent to NZ$4.14, while Fletcher Building slipped 0.53 percent to NZ$9.42.