Investors looked ahead to monthly U.S. jobs data due out Friday, which are expected to be a factor in the Federal Reserve's decision this month on interest rates. The markets expect a solid 165,000 increase in non-farm payrolls.
The central bank has said it is prepared to cut rates to shore up the U.S. economy if trade disputes crimp growth. Expectations are rising that central banks will adopt "more dovish stances," said IHS Markit in a report. "All incoming data will be scrutinized for last-minute policy signals."
The Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.1% to 3,009.50 and Tokyo's Nikkei 225 added 0.1% to 21,722.54. Hong Kong's Hang Seng advanced 0.1% to 28,835.59. Australia's S&P-ASX 200 gained 0.7% to 6,767.20. Seoul's Kospi was unchanged at 2,109.93 while India's Sensex lost 0.1% to 39,878.24. New Zealand and Taiwan advanced while Southeast Asian markets were mixed.
U.S. markets were closed Thursday for the Independence Day holiday. Last weekend's agreement by U.S. President Donald Trump and China's Xi Jinping to refrain from new tariffs pending a new round of negotiations has relieved some pressure on markets.
White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow told reporters Thursday he expected to announce new negotiations soon. Still, forecasters warn the truce is fragile because the two sides still face the disputes that caused talks to break down in May.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude lost 55 cents to $56.79 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract gained $1.09 on Thursday to close at $57.34. Brent crude, used to price international oils, added 3 cents to $63.33 per barrel in London. It lost 52 cents the previous session to $63.30.
CURRENCY: The dollar was little-changed at 107.83 yen. The euro declined to $1.1281 from $1.1286.