Japan's Nikkei 225 rebounded from a four-week intra-day low to close up marginally, with better-than-expected domestic data barely offset the unimpressive cues from Wall Street.
Traders were also keen to reduce their exposure ahead of the extended weekend, according to Reuters. Markets in Japan will be shut through May 6 for the Golden Week holiday.
Consumer electronics giant Sony settled 0.4 percent lower despite a bullish announcement late Thursday that it expects operating profit to more than quadruple this year.
Out-performers included index heavyweight Japan Tobacco, which leaped 3.6 percent after announcing a plan to buy a U.S. e-cigarette firm. Honda Motor also elevated 1.4 percent, possibly on bargain hunting or short-covering. The stock plummeted 6.7 percent in the previous session, a reaction to Tuesday's news that its profit for the fiscal fourth quarter slumped 43 percent from a year ago.
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ASX gains 0.4%
Australia's S&P ASX 200 index reversed a lower open to break a three-day losing streak on Friday, as a slightly better-than-expected factory data from the mainland calmed the nerves of investors ahead of the Reserve Bank of Australia's (RBA) meeting next week.
A comeback in the banking and mining sectors brought cheer to the Sydney bourse. Westpac led gains with a rise of 0.7 percent, while Australia and New Zealand Banking, Commonwealth Bank of Australia and National Australia Bank made gains between 0.1 to 0.5 percent. The four major lenders have been heavily sold off in the past few sessions since a rise in inflation data last week dampened the chances of a rate cut and on the back of pessimistic calls for first-half earnings.
Bargain buyers also emerged in the mining space, leading BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto up nearly 2 percent each. Fortescue Metals surged 9.2 percent following news that Australia's competition watchdog won't pursue the miner over its call to cap iron ore output. Oil-related counters also traded on the plus side; Oil Search and Santos rose over 1 percent rise as U.S. crude oil futures held steady around $59.70 a barrel in Asia's quiet trade.
NZX 50 adds 0.1%
New Zealand shares recouped losses and settled a whisker above the flatline, a day after the Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) kept interest rates steady as expected.
The New Zealand dollar lost 0.4 percent to trade at $0.7582 against the greenback, extending Thursday's declines sparked by news that the RBNZ is open to cutting rates if the economy slowed and inflation stays too low.