Asian shares dipped on Friday as spreading unrest in Saudi Arabia and weak economic data spurred some profit taking while the euro looked shaky after its biggest one-day fall versus the dollar in a month.

Key stock indexes in Japan <.N225>, Australia <.AXJO> and South Korea fell nearly 1 percent. China's report that inflation in February remained around the 5 percent mark, suggesting tighter monetary policy may be needed, added to uncertainty.

The broader Asian market outside Japan dipped about 1.1 percent.

Increased demand for safe haven assets pushed Treasuries and precious metals higher after Saudi police fired in the air on Thursday to disperse protesting Shi'ites, reviving fears of possible supply disruptions from the world's top oil exporter.

Weak U.S. economic data also prompted investors to take some profits in shares in developed markets which has enjoyed a handsome run so far this year but some bargain buying on dips checked losses.

Japanese shares tumbled to a five-week low following a weak Wall Street close. The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> closed nearly 2 percent lower, pushing below a key 50-day moving average, a move signaling deteriorating strength.

It is another day of reducing risk across the portfolio. We have had it one way for too long and with big issues hitting, everyone is running to the exit at the same time, Chris Weston, an institutional dealer at IG Markets said.


Copper prices stabilized, but were set to post a weekly drop of more than 6 percent, the biggest since early June last year after weak Chinese trade data and high inflation cast doubts on demand from the world's biggest importer.

Oil was little changed in Asia as investors waited to see if further protests would erupt in Saudi Arabia. Crude oil fell heavily overnight but recouped most of its losses in late trade as Saudi police fired in the air and used stun grenades to disperse protesters calling for political reforms.

April Brent crude was off 23 cents in early trade on Friday at $115.20 a barrel, with U.S. crude futures little changed just below $103.

The drop in stocks lifted demand for U.S. Treasuries with benchmark 10-year notes holding near a 1-1/2 month low of 3.39 percent, down from 3.56 percent hit earlier this month.

In the currency market, the euro stayed weak after having suffered its biggest one-day fall against the dollar in a month, and further losses may loom if a euro zone summit fails to soothe market nerves on sovereign debt.

Any disappointment could heap more pressure on the single currency, which slid to one-week lows near $1.3770 overnight. It last traded at $1.3820. (Additional reporting by Narayanan Somasundaram in SYDNEY; editing by Richard Borsuk)