Asian equities were mixed on Friday due to lingering worries over Yemen, with Japan's benchmark index leading the losses on profit-taking and weak economic data.
Yemen's President left the city of Aden for Saudi Arabia on Thursday after Riyadh and its allies began air strikes targeting Yemen's Houthi rebels. Oil prices initially spiked on concerns that the conflict could close the Bab-el-Mandeb strait, a key shipping route for oil tankers located between Yemen and Djibouti. However, fears of a closure eased on Friday as oil prices resumed their declines; U.S. crude and Brent both fell nearly 2 percent during Asian trade following a 5 percent surge overnight.
Japanese data for the month of February was also in focus. The nationwide consumer price index that excludes the effects of April's sales tax hit zero, fueling renewed fears of deflation. Meanwhile, retail sales came in worse than expected and household spending posted a smaller-than-expected annual fall.
A weak handover from Wall Street also weighed on sentiment. U.S. stocks fell for a fourth straight session on Thursday despite data showing that jobless claims fell to a five-week low. Attention now turns to Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen's speech on Friday and the release of first-quarter gross domestic product (GDP)