Asian stock markets were mixed and the dollar eased slightly in nervous trade on Friday as dealers looked ahead to a highly anticipated speech by US Fed chief Ben Bernanke later in the day.
At the end of a week that has seen narrow gains for most indexes, investors were cautious before Bernanke's speech to see if he will set out a plan to kickstart the stumbling US economy.
Tokyo rose 0.29 percent, or 25.42 points, to 8,797.78 and Seoul added 0.81 percent, or 14.37 points, to 1,778.95.
Sydney dipped 0.30 percent, or 12.8 points, to 4,200.0, while Shanghai shed 0.44 percent and Hong Kong was flat.
"This may be the calm before the storm," Hisatsune Kobayashi, general manager of global investment strategy at SMBC Nikko Securities in Japan, told Dow Jones Newswires.
"Although most market players don't expect US Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke to introduce aggressive monetary easing measures tonight, investors will nevertheless be disappointed if he does nothing at all."
Markets got a poor lead from Wall Street, which saw big falls after a three-day rally.
The Dow fell 1.51 percent, the S&P 500 dropped 1.56 percent and Nasdaq slumped 1.95 percent.
Rumours that Bernanke's speech at Jackson Hole, Wyoming, will outline fresh stimulus measures sent the dollar lower this week as monetary easing would flood markets with dollars.
In Tokyo trade the greenback fetched 77.21 yen, against 77.45 yen in New York late Thursday but well up from the record low 75.95 yen it hit last Friday.
The euro was trading at $1.4424 versus $1.4378 while it was flat at 111.35 yen.
There is still some scepticism that Bernanke will endorse a further round of quantitative easing, or "QE", in which a central bank buys assets from banks with electronically-generated cash to pump liquidity into the economy.
Tomohiro Ishikawa, dealer at Chuo Mitsui Trust and Banking, said: "Market participants are seen staying sidelines today awaiting what Bernanke will actually say."
News that Naoto Kan had stepped down as prime minister of Japan had little effect on markets, dealers said, as it had been widely expected ahead of a vote next week on his successor.
On oil markets New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for October delivery eased 34 cents to $84.96 a barrel in the afternoon and Brent North Sea crude for October rose eight cents to $110.70.
Gold opened at $1,759.00-$1,760.00 an ounce in Hong Kong, up from Thursday's close of $1,738.00-$1,739.00.
In other markets:
Taipei added 0.46 percent, or 34.23 points, to 7,445.10.
HTC rose 2.27 percent to Tw$767.0 while TSMC was 1.34 percent higher at Tw$67.9.
Manila closed 0.90 percent, or 39.20 points, lower at 4,303.49.
Lepanto Mining shed 1.9 percent to 1.58 pesos, Alliance Group fell 2.1 percent to 10.20 pesos and Energy Development lost 0.3 percent to 6.30 pesos.
Wellington fell 0.15 percent, or 4.95 points, to 3,296.63.
Fletcher Building was down 1.7 percent at NZ$7.72 and Contact Energy lost 1.9 percent to NZ$5.21. Fisher & Paykel Healthcare closed down 3.1 percent at NZ$2.21.