Asia Markets

Asian stocks mixed in cautious trade before US jobs report

Asian equity markets ended mixed on Friday with investors hesitant to make bets ahead of the U.S. non-farm payrolls report.

Friday's March employment report is expected to show a gain of 197,000 new jobs, according to Reuters, which would top February's 175,000 figure.

"Warmer temperatures, combined with solid underlying demand for workers, likely propelled nonfarm payrolls 275,000 higher in March, marking the largest net job gain in 13 months," wrote analysts at SG Global Economics in a morning note.

Read MoreHopes high for March jobs data, but maybe too high

On Thursday, Wall Street shares snapped a four-day winning streak, with the down 1 percent while the and retreated from record intraday highs hit earlier in the session.

Nikkei flat

Japan's benchmark retreated after rallying to a second consecutive three-week high on Thursday. Meanwhile, the traded near Thursday's three-and-a-half month low of 104 per dollar.

Read MoreHave investors been too harsh on Japan?

"Trading in USD/JPY was a real indication that [Friday's] jobs read will be positive; the pair has held just below the 104 level through European and American trade. It will be the pair to watch as Asian investors position for what is building up to be one of the more influential NFP report for 2014," said Evan Lucas, market strategist at IG.

Among the biggest losers, index heavyweight Softbank tumbled nearly 3 percent while Fuji Electric eased over 2 percent.

Convenience store operator Seven & I eased over 1 percent despite reporting a record consolidated operating profit of 339.6 billion yen ($3.27 billion) for the year through February.

March jobs data could still be confusing: Pro

Shanghai Composite gains 0.7%

Mainland shares closed higher thanks to a rally amid rare earth stocks. China Minmetals Rare Earth closed up 10 percent and Inner Mongolia Baotou Steel Rare-Earth Group ended 4 percent higher.

Banks stabilized after the People's Bank of China said on Thursday that currency economic conditions remained within a "reasonable range," which initially dashed hopes for a cut to banks' reserve requirement ratio (RRR).

Lenders Minsheng Bank and Hua Xia Bank rallied over 1 percent each.

Read More20% of China's economy is shrinking: Economist

ASX gains 0.2%

Australia's benchmark reversed losses to close at its highest levels since March 7, extending gains into a third session. For the week, the index posted a 1 percent gain.

Department store David Jones was one of the biggest losers, down 1.8 percent after CEO Paul Zahra said that formal talks about a merger with rival Myer were still months away.

Home builders CSR and Boral gained 0.8 and 0.5 percent, respectively, on news that both firms are looking to combine their brick operations to form a joint venture.

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Kospi dips 0.3%

South Korean shares tracked Asia-wide losses as the benchmark Kospi moved further away from its 2014 high hit in Thursday's session.

Among the top movers, Hyundai Motor rallied 0.8 percent while LG Electronics added 2 percent.

Kolon Industry surged by the daily limit of 15 percent after a U.S. appeals court thew out a jury verdict against the South Korean firm in its intellectual property lawsuit with DuPont.

India sheds 0.6%

Indian shares continued their retreat from their ninth straight record high on Thursday as investors booked profits ahead of Monday's general election.