For a while, the dollar was trading above the 90-yen line for the first time since June 2010 as expectations intensified that the Bank of Japan will take steps to ease credit next week. A weaker yen is a significant boost for Japan's powerhouse exporters. By late afternoon London time, the dollar was up 0.1 percent at 89.99 yen.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 1.1 percent to 23,601.78 and South Korea's Kospi added 0.7 percent to 1,987.85. In mainland China, the Shanghai Composite Index rose 1.4 percent to 2,317.07 while the smaller Shenzhen Composite Index gained 1.5 percent to 935.7

Oil prices were subdued following recent strong gains, with the benchmark New York rate down 25 cents at $95.24 a barrel. On Thursday, the contract gained $1.25 to finish at $95.49 a barrel, its highest close since last September.

Elsewhere, the euro, which has had a strong start to the year amid hopes that Europe's debt crisis has calmed for the time being, was down 0.5 percent on the day at $1.3311.

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Pamela Sampson in Bangkok contributed to this report.

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