China Eases, Rest of Asia Advances

Asian indexes closed mostly higher on Thursday after stocks in the region sold off earlier this week. Stocks in greater China, however, underperformed, their regional peers.

The Nikkei 225 average in Japan regrouped 387.82 points, or 1.7%, to 23,486.11, snapping a six-day losing streak. The move came as the U.S. dollar firmed against the yen. Energy-related stocks were higher as oil prices recovered: Inpex rose 2.7% and JXTG Holdings gained 3.1% by the end of the day.

The Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong sagged 245.18 points, or 0.8%, to 32,642.09

Back to Japan, Nintendo shares closed higher by 0.5% after the company on Wednesday announced third-quarter profit rose 261% to 116.5 billion yen ($1.07 billion U.S.), beating forecasts. The company said earlier Thursday it would partner with U.S. studio Illumination to produce a film about Nintendo character Mario.

Other technology sector names were mixed, with SoftBank up 0.5% Automakers, financials and retailers traded in positive territory. Index heavyweight Fast Retailing rose 1.9%

Japan's Fujifilm will be taking over Xerox in a deal amounting to $6.1 billion, Reuters said. Xerox will be folded into Fujifilm's existing joint venture with the U.S. company while 10,000 jobs will be cut from Fujifilm's Fuji Xerox subsidiary. Fujifilm jumped 12.12 percent by the end of the day.

Meanwhile, Fujitsu saw its stock plunge 12.84 percent a day after reporting earnings declined 29.3 percent for the period between April and December. The company also said Wednesday that it would be selling a majority stake in its mobile device business to Polaris Capital Group

Against the yen, the U.S. dollar extended overnight gains to trade at 109.57.

In Hong Kong, property developers, which traded mostly higher in the morning, were mixed in afternoon trade: Country Garden fell 1.8% and China Overseas rose 4%. Financials, technology and energy stocks were mostly lower, with Tencent declining 0.4% ahead of the market close.

PC maker Lenovo fell 2.7%, underperforming the broader market, after it booked a loss in the third quarter. The company reported a loss of $289 million U.S. in the quarter, highlighting a one-off charge of $400 million due to U.S. tax reform.

In South Korea, technology stocks were mixed, with Samsung Electronics erasing early gains to close lower by 0.2% and SK Hynix adding 1.2%. The manufacturing space mostly recorded gains, with steelmaker Posco trading higher by 3.8% by the end of the session.

Earlier in the day, the Nikkei/Markit PMI showed that factory activity in South Korea moved into expansion territory in January after coming in below the 50 mark the month prior. Meanwhile, manufacturing activity in Japan grew at its quickest in nearly four years in January

Over in Sydney, markets gained on broad-based strength across most sectors. The heavily weighted financials and materials sectors were up 1.2% and 1.1%, respectively. Oil stocks were also higher after crude continued its recovery.

CHINA

In Shanghai, the CSI 300 dropped 30 points, or 0.7%, to 4,245.90

Defense stocks ended the session in negative territory, while automakers and energy-related names closed mixed.

The fall in Chinese stocks came despite the release of China Caixin manufacturing purchasing managers' index, which topped expectations.

That followed the release of official data on Wednesday, which indicated that January factory activity in the country expanded less than expected in January.

In other markets

The Kospi in Korea inched forward 2.08 points, or 0.1%, to 2,568.54

In Taiwan, the Taiex Index gained 56.46 points, or 0.5%, to 11,160.25

In Singapore, the Straits Times Index picked up 13.24 points, or 0.4%, to 3,547.23

In New Zealand, the NZX 50 lost 58.14 points, or 0.7%, to 8,383.87

The ASX hiked 52.38 points, or 0.9%, to 6,090.07