Though the Chinese commerce ministry said it was willing to work with the United States to reach an interim trade deal, investors continued to fret, with U.S. President Donald Trump set to sign into law the bills backing Hong Kong protesters.
Terming the bills "a wild card" for the market, OCBC Treasury Research said in a note that China's reaction may hold the key to investor sentiment, given there is no detailed retaliation plan yet.
Singapore shares gained 0.5% after shedding 2% in the last three sessions, as investors snapped up beaten-down stocks. Despite Friday's gains, the index is set for its biggest weekly drop in seven weeks.
Philippine shares fell over 1.2% to a six-week low, heading for their worst week in more than three months.
Developer Ayala Land Inc, the fourth-largest stock on the index, slipped as much as 3% to its lowest in nearly eight months.
Losses in big caps such as Ayala Land Inc came from weak sentiment in the region, according to Charles William Ang, an associate analyst at COL Financial Group.
Conglomerate DMCI Holdings also weighed on the index, extending losses after the energy department announced a ban on operations of a coal miner, in which it is a major stakeholder.
Indonesian stocks edged lower, hurt by financials and communications stocks. Index heavyweight Pt Telekomunikasi Indonesia shed 0.5%.
Vietnamese shares slipped 0.5% to their lowest in over two months and were set for a third straight session of losses, with real estate stocks weighing on the index. Malaysian and Thai stocks were little changed.
By Arundhati Dutta