Nikkei Takes a Breather as Asia Retreats

Japanese stock markets took a breather Friday from this week's rally, while most other Asian indices closed lower, despite a strong lead from Wall Street.

The Nikkei 225 closed down 0.47 percent, as investors took profits following Thursday's 2 percent rally. Meanwhile, South Korea's Kospi finished the trading day 1.3 percent down, as investors remained cautious over tensions with North Korea.

In Japan investors were taking a more cautious approach, after central bank governor Haruhiko Kuroda acknowledged that the Bank of Japan's (BOJ) ambitious inflation target is flexible and said he was looking out for signs that excess liquidity was not causing bubbles in stock or other asset markets.

(Read More: BOJ Bazooka to Boost a Corner of Bond Market: Pro)

But Goldman Sachs upgraded on Thursday its target for the Nikkei from 15,000 to 16,000 over the next 12 months on the back of the BOJ's easing program.

The Hang Seng ended down 0.1 percent, and shares on the Shanghai Composite closed 0.58 percent down.

In Australia, shares edged up 0.13 percent. The benchmark was, however, up 2.5 percent for the week, its first rise in five weeks.

ASX 200
CNBC 100

Positive data on the U.S. labor market and an encouraging retail outlook pushed the Dow and S&P 500 to fresh record peaks, although weakness in large technology firms capped upside on the Nasdaq.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced for the fourth consecutive session,gaining 62.90 points to end at 14,865. The S&P 500 rose 5.64 points to finish at 1,593. The Nasdaq eked out a gain of 2.90 points to close at 3,300.

Japan Movers

On the Nikkei, the strongest gainer was Tokyo Electric Power, which surged near 16 percent, after the company secured the first annual coal import contract for the fiscal year which began on April 1, Reuters reported.

Meanwhile Fast Retailing, dipped as much as 5 percent soon after open, then recovered to 0.87 percent, after the owner of the Uniqlo clothing chain kept its annual operating forecast unchanged on Friday despite its jump in domestic sales for March.

Investors are still watching movements in the yen. The dollar-yen was trading around the 99.45 level on Friday, still shy of the 100 mark.

Kospi Muted

Sentiment in South Korea was impacted by ongoing concerns of a possible conflict with the North. Pyongyang launched a fresh round of war rhetoric on Thursday, warning it had "powerful striking means" on standby.

(Read More: Here's the Real Danger With North Korea)

Meanwhile, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), the country's central bank, said its economy contracted by 0.6 percent year on year in the first quarter, disappointing expectations of modest growth.

(Read More: Singapore Holds Monetary Policy Steady as GDP Contracts)

A disappointing revenue outlook from Indian business technology consulting firm Infosys, sent shares in the firm tumbling near 17 percent, dragging the Bombay Stock Exchange down 1.4 percent.

The company said it expected 2013/2014 revenue to grow 6-10 percent, lower than expectations of 12 percent due to global economic uncertainties, Reuters reported.

In macro economic news out of India industrial production growth slowed to 0.6 percent in February from a year earlier, government data showed on Friday.