Japan's Nikkei index took a breather after rallying to a six-year high in the previous session as the yen strengthened against major counterparts. Still, the index posted its best November performance since 2005, Reuters reported.
Earlier in the session, the currency hit a five-year low against the euro at 139.70 and a six-month low of 102.60 against the greenback but moved off those levels in afternoon trade. Panasonic and telecom firm KDDI were among the worst-performing stocks, down 2 percent each.
On the economic front, Japan's core consumer price index (CPI) rose 0.9 percent in October from a year earlier to a new five-year high, but that didn't seem to impress analysts.
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"Overall, it is a low number. In the grand scheme of things, there's going to be a need for more action from the Bank of Japan to get to its 2 percent inflation target," said Chris Tedder, research analyst at FOREX.com.
China's benchmark index traded in a narrow 12-point range as investors were cautious ahead of Sunday's release of November's official manufacturing purchasing managers' index (PMI). A Reuters poll expects the index to ease to 51.1 from October's eighteen-month high of 51.4.
Defense shares gained after Beijing sent advanced fighter jets into its new air defense zone in the East China Sea on Thursday. Hafei Aviation and Aerospace Communication climbed over 3 percent each.
Shipping stocks also outperformed with COSCO Shipping and China Shipping Development 4 percent higher after the Baltic Dry Index surged 9.3 percent in its biggest single day rise in two-and-a-half months.
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