Most Asian markets were in negative territory on 25 March as investors took cues from a subdued overnight session on Wall Street. Trading volumes were light across the region, with markets in Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Indonesia and India closed for Good Friday.
Japan's Nikkei benchmark index rose 0.7% to 17,002.75 points after official figures showed the country's core inflation rate was flat for a second straight month in February, belying analyst expectations for a 0.1% rise. Tokyo's core consumer price index, a leading indicator of inflation, fell 0.3% in March.
The underwhelming numbers come despite the Bank of Japan pushing interest rates into negative territory to boost growth in January. Analysts believe the central bank will be forced to downgrade its inflation forecasts and push back the timeline for hitting its 2% inflation target when it publishes its next quarterly report in April.
South Korean shares flat
US stocks were broadly unchanged overnight, with the Dow Jones and Nasdaq share averages both edging up 0.1%.
Mainland China's Shanghai Composite index was flat at 2,960.31 points, a day after Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said the country will maintain a solid pace of growth in 2016.
In South Korea, the Kospi benchmark closed 0.1% down at 1,983.81.
Data released by the Bank of Korea showed South Korea's economy expanded 0.7% in the fourth quarter from the previous three months, up slightly from an earlier estimate of 0.6%. But the figure represents a marked slowdown from the 1.2% growth rate recorded in the third quarter.
"Last year's growth was affected a lot by slowing exports," Jeon Seung Cheol, a director at the Bank of Korea, was quoted as saying by Bloomberg.
"The government implemented policies to support domestic demand and counter external shocks, but exports still weighed on growth."
Elsewhere, Myanmar's first modern stock exchange – the Yangon Stock Exchange – commenced trading, three months after it was launched. Only one company – First Myanmar Investment – is listed on the bourse.