Asia Markets

Japan stocks lag on stronger yen, but rest of Asia up

Asian markets mostly advanced early Friday, supported by news of a ceasefire between Ukraine and pro-Russian rebels, and Greece agreeing to talks over its debt problems, but a stronger yen curbed risk appetite in Tokyo.

Overnight, U.S. stocks closed sharply higher, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average closing up 0.6 percent. The S&P 500 settled 1 percent higher, while the Nasdaq rallied 1.2 percent to finish at its highest level since March 2000.

ASX surges 2.3%

Australia's S&P ASX 200 index touched its highest level since end-May 2008, breaking a four-session losing streak. Meanwhile, the Australian dollar trimmed gains to $0.7746 per dollar. Choppy trade in the currency ensued after the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) governor Glenn Stevens said early Friday that lower interest rates may not have the same effect of boosting demand as they once did, but monetary policy isn't at a point where it has no effect at all.

"The central bank has a clear easing bias at the moment and while the swaps market and Aussie dollar didn't react wildly to today's comments, it's almost as if the market feels a March [rate] cut is a foregone conclusion," Stan Shamu, IG market strategist, wrote in a note.

Overnight gains in key commodity prices like oil boosted the resource-heavy bourse; Big miners such as BHP Billiton and Fortescue Metals elevated 4.8 and 5.7 percent each, while oil and gas producer Santos recouped Thursday's losses by ratcheting up 4.4 percent.

Earnings continue to be in play; Shares of Rio Tinto rocketed 6.5 percent after reporting a 78 percent increase in full-year net profit for 2014. The world's number 2 miner also said it would return $2 billion to shareholders through a buyback.

"Cost cuts [help to] streamline the company to take advantage of the future. It is getting its structure correct and focusing on the core game," Jonathan Barratt, CIO of Ayers Alliance Securities, told CNBC Asia's "Squawk Box." "The rally today shows that shareholders and markets are liking it."

Read MoreRio Tinto CEO: Time to build, not buy

A more than 50 percent increase in first half profit lifted metal recycler Sims Metals by 11 percent. Gold producer Newcrest Mining underperformed to close flat, despite delivering a 400 percent rise in first-half net profit.

Markets liking Rio Tinto's results: Expert

Mainland indices up

China's Shanghai Composite closed up 1 percent at a near one-week high, posting a five-day winning streak.

Among top gainers, developers such as Gemdale and China Vanke rallied more than 2 percent, respectively. In the finance sector, Bank of China tacked on 1.5 percent, while Agricultural Bank of China and China Construction Bank made gains of 1.9 and 0.9 percent each. Among junior banks, Hua Xia Bank rallied 3.3 percent.

In domestic news, China's Central Commission for Discipline Inspection said Wednesday to direct the country's anti-graft campaign toward China's state-owned enterprises (SOEs). The first round of the effort will cover 26 large SOEs, including China National Petroleum Corp, China National Offshore Oil Corp, China Huaneng Group and China Mobile Communications.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index gained 1.1 percent. BYD was the top performer, surging 9.1 percent, on news that the Chinese carmaker backed by Warren Buffett signed a deal to sell Holitech, its component unit, for about $368.35 million.

Melco Crown notched up 2.3 percent, seemingly unaffected by its announcement of an annual 20 percent drop in fourth-quarter revenues.

Jewelry chain Chow Tai Fook, which was in focus after announcing a $2.6 billion investment plan to build a casino resort near South Korea's largest airport, sagged 0.8 percent. Bank of East Asia sold off 1.6 percent after executives on Thursday defended a planned capital raising, which is under pressure from hedge fund Elliott Management. Improved net profit for 2014 also failed to lift shares of China Minsheng Bank, which fell 0.4 percent.

Chinese stocks still cheap, says Morgan Stanley

Nikkei slips 0.4%

Japanese shares underperformed the region, inching down as dollar-yen pulled back to the 118 territory. The benchmark Nikkei 225 index had been the region's top performer on Thursday, piling on 1.9 percent.

As the yen strengthened, blue chip exporter counters fell; Toshiba retreated 2.6 percent, while Canon and Toyota Motor nursed losses of 0.6 percent, respectively. Sony, which is due to launch its high-end Walkman ZX2, dropped 0.3 percent below the flatline.

Online retailer Rakuten charged 5.3 percent on the back of a 73 percent jump in fourth-quarter operating profit.

Read MoreShop til you drop? Why Philippine shares can climb

Kospi up 0.8%

South Korea's Kospi index edged up on Friday, after closing at a two-week low in the previous session. Index heavyweights provided upward momentum, with utility Kepco leading gains with a 2.2 percent rise. The top two heaviest weighted stocks Samsung Electronics and Hyundai Motor climbed 1.3 and 1.1 percent each.

The world's biggest shipbuilding firm Hyundai Heavy Industries tanked over 5 percent after announcing a record operating loss in 2014, due to slow demand from European clients and competition from Chinese rivals.

Casino plays were lower following news that the country may see another casino resort by Hong Kong's Chow Tai Fook; Kangwon Land slipped 1 percent, but Kosdaq-listed Paradise slumped 5 percent.

Nifty rises 1.1%

Indian shares elevated to a near one-week high ahead of a string of earnings releases from the likes of automaker Mahindra & Mahindra and telecommunications firm Reliance Comm.