TOKYO, Feb 25: Asian stocks were mixed today after US Federal Reserve chief Janet Yellen damped speculation of a rate hike before summer, and as eurozone finance ministers backed Greek reforms critical to avoiding a disastrous default.
Tokyo snapped a five-day winning streak to close 0.10 percent, or 18.28 points, lower at 18,585.20, while Sydney rose 0.30 percent, or 17.92 points, to 5,944.90, and Seoul added 0.73 percent, or 14.35 points, to finish at 1,990.47. Chinese markets also rose at the open in the first day of trade after the week-long Lunar New Year holiday.
But Shanghai quickly reversed coursed, falling 0.93 percent in the afternoon, despite a survey showing Chinese factory activity expanded in February, snapping two consecutive months of contraction. Hong Kong also lost its opening gains as it slipped 0.07 percent late trade.
"The two potential international risk events for markets had positive outcomes," said Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets in Sydney.
"Janet Yellen's testimony moved expectations for a rate hike out in time while the boxes were ticked to cement a four-month funding programme for Greece."
Global markets zeroed in on the start of Yellen's two days of congressional testimony, where she signalled that the Fed was preparing for a rate hike this year, but she hinted such a move would not come before June.
"The reaction of the market (to Yellen's testimony) is weaker dollar, lower yields, higher equities -- the classic reaction you'd see from a slightly dovish Fed," Omer Esiner, chief market analyst at the currency brokerage Commonwealth Foreign Exchange, told Bloomberg News.