Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 dipped 0.7% in early trading to 20,796.38, while Australia's S&P/ASX 200 inched down 0.1% to 6,383.70. South Korea's Kospi gained 0.4% to 2,046.56. Hong Kong's Hang Seng was little changed but up by less than 0.1% to 27,115.53, and the Shanghai Composite gained 0.3% to 2,914.46.
Major U.S. stock indexes capped a day of listless trading with modest gains Thursday, snapping the market's two-day losing streak.
The S&P 500 index rose 5.84 points, or 0.2%, to 2,788.86. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 43.47 points, or 0.2%, to 25,169.88. The Nasdaq composite added 20.41 points, or 0.3%, to 7,567.72. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies fell 4.42 points, or 0.3%, to 1,485.53.
"Early expectations for the temporary relief on Wall Street to spread to Asia markets into Friday had once again been derailed with more confrontation trade policies out of the U.S., one to throw markets into a risk-off mode again," says Jingyi Pan, market strategist at IG in Singapore.
Trade concerns are likely to continue through late June, when U.S. and Chinese leaders will have an opportunity to meet at the G20 summit in Japan.
In early May the U.S. and China concluded their 11th round of trade talks with no agreement. The U.S. then more than doubled duties on $200 billion in Chinese imports, and China responded by raising its own tariffs.
Benchmark U.S. crude fell 50 cents to $56.09 a barrel. It skidded 3.8% to settle at $56.59 a barrel Thursday. Brent crude oil, the international standard, slipped 51 cents to $64.82 per barrel.
The dollar rose to 109.55 Japanese yen from 109.69 yen on Thursday. The euro strengthened to $1.1135 from $1.1138.