Japan's Nikkei falls but other Asian markets rise
|London | Wall Street | Asia|
Asian markets traded mostly higher on Friday as investors kept a close eye on developments in Europe and hopes for a deal with Greece.
Greece said it would talk to creditors about fixing its debt problem when another round of meetings begins later on Friday.
However, Japan's Nikkei 225 fell 0.4% to 17,913.36 after closing at its highest since July 2007 on Thursday.
Friday's fall was put down to profit-taking and a strengthening in the yen.
The dollar fell back to 118.93 yen, from Thursday's level of 120.27. A stronger yen is a disadvantage for Japanese exporters as it makes their products more expensive abroad.
Chinese shares traded higher, following US gains overnight, but investors remained cautious ahead of a long Chinese New Year holiday.
The Shanghai Composite closed up 0.96% at 3,203.83, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng index ended up 1.07% at 24,682.54.
Shares in China were boosted by the central bank's move to allow companies in Shanghai's Free Trade Zone to conduct overseas financing without government approvals.
Australia leads gains
In Australia, shares surged to a near seven-year peak on firmer commodity prices.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 closed up 2.3% at 5,877.5, and at one point during the day hit 5,893.5 - its highest since May 2008.
Shares in mining heavyweight Rio Tinto jumped 6.5% after it announced it would return $2bn to shareholders.
But, shares of Australia's biggest gold miner, Newcrest, were down 0.1% after it reported that its half-year underlying profit was down 7m Australian dollars ($5.4m; £3.5m) from a year ago.
South Korean shares also closed higher with the Kospi index rising 0.8% to 1,957.5.
Investors ignored data that showed the country's exports in January fell 0.7% from a year ago, weaker than a preliminary 0.4% decline reported earlier.