Asian equity markets rose on the final trading day of the week, but geopolitical risks in Thailand and Ukraine remained firmly in focus.
Thailand's benchmark SET stock index fell 0.6 percent while the was 0.2 percent higher against the dollar after the country's army chief seized control of the government in a bloodless coup late on Thursday. The move came two days after he declared martial law, saying that the military had to intervene in order to end the country's six-month old political deadlock.
"We watch this space carefully for more details to emerge from the military on the time-line for elections. International pressures against the coup are mounting as U.S. has warned of 'negative implications', Japan has said it is 'regrettable' and many others 'concerned,' said Vishnu Varathan, senior economist at Mizuho Bank.
Ukraine, Europe elections in focus
Several Ukrainian servicemen were killed on Thursday in a clash with pro-Russian separatists ahead of this weekend's presidential elections. On Thursday, Moscow said it was pulling back troops from its borders near Ukraine, but NATO says a huge Russian military presence still remains.
"Tensions in Europe are subtracting from sentiment, especially with the Ukraine Presidential elections on Sunday and the EU parliament elections underway. On the former issue, there seems a real possibility we see a run-off election presumably in June and who wins will determine Russia's subsequent response, and it's this point which seems key for markets. With increasing bloodshed, tensions are rising, so traders will continue to monitor newsflow here," said Chris Weston, chief market strategist at IG in a note.
Nikkei 0.9% higher
Japanese shares ended at a three-week high, extending gains after rallying 2 percent on Thursday. For the week, the benchmark posted a 2.6 percent gain.
Industrial machinery stocks led the gains as the yen continued to retreat from Wednesday's three-month high against the greenback, which increases the value of repatriated earnings for exporters.
Sony fell 0.8 percent, unable to track a rally in its American Depository Receipts overnight, after CEO Kazuo Hirai said he is targeting a three-fold rise in operating profit by the next fiscal year.
China shares up
Property developers led the gains in Shanghai following local media reports that more cities would ease housing purchasing restrictions. Vanke jumped over 3 percent, Poly Real Estate climbed 4 percent and China Merchants Property rallied nearly 6 percent.
ASX up 0.2%
Australia's benchmark index ended at a one-week high, rising for a fourth session. For the week, the index eked out a modest gain of 0.2 percent.
Industrial services company Spotless rallied more than 7 percent at its market debut, in what traders called Australia's biggest float in nearly four years.
Treasury Wine Estates closed more than 4 percent higher after the Australian Financial Review reported that China's Bright Food may be considering a takeover offer for the wine producer.
South Korean shares bounced between gains and losses in choppy trade, but managed to end at at their highest levels since December.
Sensex finishes 1.3% higher
Indian shares extended their gains while the hit a fresh eleven-month high of 58.36 per dollar.