Investors also have reasons to be more cautious ahead of a key U.S. non-farm payrolls data for July due at 1230 GMT, with job creation below the 100,000 forecast likely to boost hopes the Fed, which on Wednesday stood pat with its current monetary policy, would embark on further easing as early as next month.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan slipped 1 per cent after global stocks tumbled on Thursday, but was set for a weekly gain of about 1 per cent.
The index's materials sector slumped nearly 2 per cent as miners dragged Australian shares lower to rank among the worst performers in Asia with a 1 per cent drop.
"One would expect the risk-off adjustment would likely be involved in the selling of stocks such as miners, whose revenue strengths are more vulnerable to on-going problems in Europe, and the retrenchment of world confidence and so forth," said Ric Spooner, market strategist at CMC Markets, of Australian stocks.
Japan's Nikkei stock average slid 1.6 per cent, hit by heavy quarterly losses and cuts to the full-year earnings outlook from Sharp Corp and Sony Corp.
Expectations for bold actions had run high after ECB President Mario Draghi on Thursday last week vowed to do whatever it takes to preserve the euro.
The ECB, after keeping interest rates steady, indicated it may resume buying government bonds to drive down surging Spanish and Italian borrowing costs, but passed the baton back to euro zone governments by saying they must act first.
But Draghi said the ECB would consider other "non-standard" measures, hinting at quantitative easing, and by noting signs of an economic recession spreading across the continent left the door open for future rate cuts.
"It was obviously disappointing not to get outright buying of bonds by the Fed and ECB, but it seems they will come and in the case of the ECB, could be unlimited," said Chris Weston, a dealer at IG Markets in Melbourne.
CENTRAL BANKS NOT ALMIGHTY
The euro hit all-time lows against the Australian and New Zealand dollars in early Asian trade around A$1.1600 and NZ$1.4980 respectively.
The single currency fell 0.1 per cent against the U.S. dollar to $1.2170, not far from a one-week low of $1.21335 touched after investors digested the ECB's news on Thursday.
"Draghi kept hopes that the ECB will do what it can within the framework of a central bank and that is positive," said Kazuto Uchida, an executive officer and general manager of the global markets division at the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ.
"But concurrently, markets were reminded of the limit to what the central bank can do for Europe's fiscal crisis. There is now risk of repercussions to having an excessive belief that monetary policy or central banks are 'almighty'."
Uchida said that the Fed, in contrast, has managed market expectations better to keep relative stability by pricing in further easing stimulus.
While European shares fell on Thursday, euro zone bank shares and Spanish stocks were still up following Draghi's pledge last week, while Europe's volatility index fell 6 per cent on Thursday, signalling investors are still willing to take risk.
Risk aversion may also be tamed somewhat as data on Thursday showed the number of Americans filing new claims for jobless benefits rose last week and manufacturers suffered an unexpected drop in orders in June, suggesting the economy is struggling to break out of a soft patch and needs more monetary stimulus.
The Fed said at this week's meeting that it is prepared to act if the economy deteriorates further, and economists say the U.S. central bank is buying time to lay the groundwork for further monetary easing, possibly at its September 12-13 gathering.
Brent crude added 0.4 per cent at $106.30 a barrel while U.S. crude futures rose 0.4 per cent to $87.50.
Data on Friday showed activity in China's services industry slowed in July from June, but still fared far better than the factory sector, with the official purchasing managers' index falling to 55.6 from 56.7 and staying above a 50 reading which signals expansion.
Market jitters unsettled Asian credit markets, sending the spread on the iTraxx Asia ex-Japan investment-grade index wider by 4 basis points.
Copyright @Thomson Reuters 2012