Across the Korean Strait, the Kospi gave up early gains to finish the session just below the flat line. The index closed lower by 0.05 percent despite gains seen in some heavily weighted tech names.
Shares of Samsung Electronics rose more than 5 percent following an announcement of a 50:1 stock split, but later closed just 0.2 percent higher. The reason for the decision was "based on the view that a high share price was a hindrance to potential investors," the company said in a statement.
Samsung had earlier announced a record fourth-quarter profit on Wednesday, in line with what it had forecast earlier this month. Profit for the period rose 64.3 percent compared to one year ago to 15.2 trillion won ($14.15 billion). Other tech names were mixed: SK Hynix gained 0.55 percent and LG Display slid 1.08 percent.
Financials traded lower for the most part, as did energy-related stocks. Manufacturing names finished mixed, with steelmaker Posco advancing by 0.26 percent.
Down Under, the S&P/ASX 200 edged up 0.25 percent to close at 6,037.7 amid broad-based gains, with the exception of the energy and materials space. Declines seen in the energy sector came as oil prices continued to decline. Santos fell 1.16 percent and Beach Energy tumbled 4.06 percent by the end of the session.
The heavily weighted financials sub-index reversed early losses to edge up by 0.06 percent.
The Hang Seng Index rose 0.86 percent, or 279.98 points, to end at 32,887.27, with financial stocks mostly higher after recording losses in the last session. HSBC closed higher by 0.12 percent, China Construction Bank rose 1.81 percent and AIA advanced 0.6 percent. Property names closed mixed, while energy-related names came under pressure, with CNOOC falling 1.14 percent on the day.
Mainland markets finished in negative territory: The Shanghai composite closed 0.19 percent lower and the Shenzhen composite fell 1.66 percent. Despite the declines, blue chip names recorded gains in the session. The CSI 300 index, which tracks large caps listed in Shanghai and Shenzhen, finished higher by 0.48 percent.
Official data released earlier showed factory activity expanded less than expected in January: China's manufacturing PMI came in at 51.3, missing the 51.5 figure forecast in a Reuters poll.
Meanwhile, President Donald Trump'sState of the Union address on Wednesday — which was expected to be positive in tone — did not result in major market moves, although the dollar was softer after the speech.
U.S. stock index futures were higher, with Dow Jones industrial average futures rising 0.31 percent at 4:20 p.m. HK/SIN.
Markets in Malaysia were closed for Thaipusam.