Asian shares mixed after oil prices drop

Asian shares were mixed Friday as oil prices eased and Wall Street stabilized after two days of sharp losses.

But markets remained cautious as investors monitored the impact of Libya's growing political crisis. Many of the region's main bourses struggled to find direction, fluctuating between positive and negative territory throughout the morning.

Japan's Nikkei 225 stock average rose 0.2 percent to 10,475.68, and Hong Kong's Hang Seng index added 0.7 percent to 22,763.83.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 added 0.1 percent to 4,816.10.

Meanwhile, South Korea's Kospi fell 0.1 percent to 1,947.30, and the Shanghai Composite index slipped 0.8 percent to 2,856.27.

New Zealand's benchmark retreated 0.4 percent three days after the earthquake in Christchurch. The official death toll climbed to 113, and officials said rescue teams had pulled nothing but bodies from the rubble of collapsed buildings for 48 hours.

Among the day's gainers, shares of Toyota Motor Corp. jumped 1.6 percent after a new recall in the U.S. prompted federal regulators to close its investigation into the Japanese automaker. Toyota said Thursday it is recalling 2.17 million vehicles in the U.S. Thursday to address accelerator pedals that could become entrapped in floor mats or jammed in driver's side carpeting.

In New York on Thursday, investors were relieved to see oil prices fall for the first time in nine days. The International Energy Agency said fighting between forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi and anti-government protesters were not affecting oil inventories as much as analysts had feared.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 37.28 points, or 0.3 percent, to 12,068.50.

The broader Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 1.30, or 0.1 percent, to 1,306.10. The Nasdaq composite bucked the trend, rising 14.91 points, or 0.6 percent, to 2,737.90.

In currencies, the dollar rose to 81.91 from 81.77 yen late Thursday. The euro stood at $1.3827 from $1.3807.

Benchmark crude for April delivery was down 36 cents to $96.92 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 82 cents to settle at $97.28 a barrel on Thursday.