Most of the Asian stock markets ended lower Friday as weaker-than-expected U.S. jobless claims and industrial production data in Japan hurt investors sentiment.
The U.S. Labor Department said on Thursday that new claims for jobless benefits fell by 5,000 from the previous week, to their lowest level since April 2008. For the week ended March 24, initial applications for unemployment-insurance payments declined to 359,000 compared to the previous week's upwardly revised figure of 364,000 but fell short of analysts' estimation of 350,000.
Japanese stocks declined after an official data release showed that that Japan's factory output unexpectedly fell for the first time in three months in February. The Japanese benchmark Nikkei declined 0.31 percent or 31.23 points to 10,083.56.
Industrial production for February unexpectedly and was -1.2 percent MoM with broad-based weak production across industries. Looking ahead, however, producers are expecting that production for March and April would be +2.6 percent MoM and +0.7 percent MoM, respectively, suggesting that the decline in February was just a short-term adjustment, a note from Credit Agricole said.
Among the stocks, Fanuc Corp. declined 2.85 percent and Sony Corp. fell 2.41 percent, while Honda Motor and Canon Inc slipped nearly 1 percent.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.32 percent or 66.76 points to 20,542.63and South Korea's Seoul Composite edged down 0.02 percent, while Chinese Shanghai Composite gained 0.47 percent to 2,262.79.
In Hong Kong, property developers' shares declined, led by Sun Hung Kai Properties after the company's two chairmen were arrested by the territory's anti-corruption commission.
Sun Hung Kai Properties plunged 13.14 percent and Sino Land fell 3.58 percent while Henderson Land Development fell 2.5 percent.