Investors in Asian markets are also keen on the lunar New Year holidays starting this weekend, which could boost retail sales and increase inflow of Chinese tourists to neighboring countries.

Among individual stocks, shares of Panasonic Corp. skyrocketed more than 17 percent. The company, which reported a 61.4 billion yen ($667 million) profit for the October-December period Friday, has gotten a boost from a favorable exchange rate.

South Korean exporters Samsung Electronics Co. and LG Electronics Inc. saw their shares fall 0.3 percent and 1.8 percent respectively, as the stronger won threatens to erode their overseas revenues.

Benchmark oil for March delivery fell 50 cents to $97.28 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 28 cents to finish at $97.77 a barrel on the Nymex on Friday.

In currencies, the euro fell to $1.3600 from $1.3662 in late trading Friday in New York. The dollar rose to 92.93 yen from 92.75 yen.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

If you liked this article you might like

What's Behind the Surge in Energy Stocks

Hillary Clinton Says Prosecuting Individuals is Key to Wall Street Reform