Tokyo stocks closed 0.44 percent percent lower on Wednesday as the yen's strength and gloomy economic data from the eurozone offset positive sentiment after the S&P 500 closed at another record high.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 index at the Tokyo Stock Exchange, one of the few Asian financial markets open because of a public holiday, finished down 61.51 points at 13,799.35.
The broader Topix index of all first-section shares slipped 0.58 percent, or 6.76 points, to 1,158.27.
Markets in China, Hong Kong, South Korea, India, the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, Taiwan and Singapore were all closed for the May Day holiday.
Sydney closed 0.48 percent, or 25.0 points, lower at 5,166.2.
The yen's strength and a lack of participants due to a shortened trading week in Japan will curtail bullishness, offsetting the S&P 500's rise, analysts said. Japanese markets will close Friday for a holiday.
"The dollar's retracement is first and foremost on the minds of overseas investors," said Tatsunori Kawai, chief strategist at kabu.com Securities.
"Continued yen weakening is key to keeping this group of investors interested in Japanese exporters," he told Dow Jones Newswires.
The yen has plunged in recent months with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pushing for active government spending and the Bank of Japan taking massive easing steps, which tends to weigh on the yen's value.
That in turn helps Japan's exporters by making their products more competitive overseas and boosts the value of foreign-earned income, as Japanese firms report fiscal full-year earnings.
But the dollar's rise stalled last week just short of the 100-yen mark which the greenback last hit four years ago.
The dollar weakened Tuesday after a key US regional index of manufacturing activity unexpectedly fell, suggesting the economy is softer than believed.
In Wednesday forex trading, the greenback fetched 97.37 yen against 97.45 yen in New York Tuesday afternoon, while the euro bought 128.17 yen from 128.31 yen.
Dealers were also concerned by official figures showing that eurozone unemployment hit a fresh record of 12.1 percent in March, while ratings agency Moody's downgraded Slovenia by two notches to junk status -- with a negative outlook -- warning it might need a bailout.
Adding to gloom Wednesday was a slight slowdown in China's manufacturing in April from the previous month.
The closely-watched purchasing managers' index dropped to 50.6 in April, down from 50.9 in March, official data showed.
In Tokyo stock trading, Japan Airlines shares were down 4.35 percent to 4,725 yen after it said Tuesday that full-year net profit fell 8.0 percent, while rival All Nippon Airways was down 1.41 percent to 209 yen.
ANA said its fiscal year to March profit soared about 53 percent, but both airlines said they would take a combined revenue hit of more than $200 million over the months-long grounding of Boeing's Dreamliner.
US stocks rose Tuesday, helped by solid data on housing and consumer confidence and as reports of a $17 billion Apple bond sale cheered investors.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.14 percent to 14,839.80 while the broad-based S&P 500 picked up 0.25 percent to 1,597.57, a new all-time closing high.
An ounce of gold fetched $1,469.05 at 0945 GMT compared with $1,472.50 late Tuesday.
In other markets:
Wellington fell 0.25 percent, or 11.35 points, to 4,603.02
Air New Zealand was down 0.33 percent at NZ$1.495 while Telecom Corp slid 0.77 percent to NZ$2.585.
Jakarta ended up 0.53 percent, or 26.85 points, at 5,060.92.
Paper manufacturer Pabrik Kertas Tjiwi Kimia rose 7.69 percent to 2,100 rupiah, while miner Aneka Tambang slipped 0.72 percent to 1,370 rupiah.