Asia Loses Ground Friday

Markets in Asia traded mostly lower on Friday, with Samsung Group in focus after reports said senior executives tied to an ongoing corruption scandal offered to resign, while its flagship brand introduced new transparency measures to handle large financial donations.

The Nikkei 225 Index docked 87.92 points, or 0.5%, to conclude the week at 19,283.54, as some export stocks came under pressure from a relatively stronger yen trading at 112.84 to the U.S. dollar, strengthening from levels above 113.0 earlier this week.

The Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong sank 149.16 points, or 0.6%, to 23,965.70

Shares of Toyota fell 0.8% Honda was down 0.5% and Sony was off by 0.8%

Toshiba shares rose 4.1% in a volatile session, following reports on Thursday that South Korea's SK Hynix will consider a fresh bid for the troubled conglomerate's flash memory chip business if it offered more of it for sale. SK Hynix shares were down 5.4%

South Korea's Yonhap news agency said two senior executives at Samsung offered to resign to take responsibility for the group's involvement in the corruption scandal involving President Park Geun-hye. They were identified as suspects by the South Korean special prosecution in the investigation, said Reuters, which led to the arrest of group chief Jay Y. Lee last week.

Samsung Electronics announced a series of measures on Friday aimed to bring greater transparency and accountability in managing financial donations and monetary support for their corporate social responsibility (CSR)-related activities and funds. The company said financial donations and CSR funding of more than one billion Korean won ($882,460 U.S.) will require the approval from the board and will be publicly disclosed.

Samsung Electronics was down 2.5% and Samsung SDI was off by 0.4%, while Samsung C&T inched higher by 0.8%

Standard Chartered will release its earnings for the year ended Dec. 31 late afternoon Asia time, with its mix of Asia and emerging market exposure and London and Hong Kong ties closely-watched by investors. Its competitor HSBC reported earlier in the week a 62% slump in annual pre-tax profit .

Standard Chartered shares traded up 0.3% in Hong Kong, while HSBC shares fell 0.7%,

Australian markets headed earthward, with the materials sector falling 2.1%. Resource producers were mostly lower, with major miners losing more than 3% each.

Shares of Rio Tinto closed down 4.2%, Fortescue was off 3.4% and BHP Billiton declined 3%.

The Australian dollar fetched $0.7714 U.S.

In other markets

In Shanghai, the CSI 300 inched up 0.53 points to 3,473.85

In Taiwan, the Taiex Index subtracted 18.84 points, or 0.2%, to 9,750.47

In Korea, the Kospi index fell 13.51 points, or 0.6%, to 2,094.12

In Singapore, the Straits Times Index dropped 20.54 points, or 0.7%, to 3,117.03

In New Zealand, the NZX 50 slipped 30.94 points, or 0.4%, to 7,058.58

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 doffed 45.67 points, or 0.8%, to 5,738.99