Reuters - Asia share indexes fell from highs early Friday as market participants sold after a recent rally inspired by hopes of a big U.S. virus economic stimulus by President Joe Biden.

"The markets had such a strong run yesterday after the presidential inauguration in the U.S. and the run-up to that. The lead coming in from the U.S. is a bit messy," said Shane Oliver, chief economist at investment manager AMP Capital in Sydney.

"A lot of the good news is out there. I suspect a fairly flat day."

MSCI's broadest gauge of Asia Pacific stocks outside of Japan was off 0.2% at 722.49 points and shy of its high of 727.31 touched Thursday.

The index has jumped 3.7% so far this week - reflecting relief over an orderly transition of power in the U.S. and strong expectations that U.S. stimulus will provide continued support for international assets.

Republicans in the U.S. Congress have indicated they were willing to work with President Biden on his $1.9 trillion U.S. fiscal stimulus plan - though some are opposed to the price tag.

Democrats took control of the U.S. Senate on Wednesday, though they will still need Republican support to pass the program.

Australia's benchmark index was down 0.2% while Japan's Nikkei eased 0.4%.

China shares started on the back foot with the blue chip CSI300 index down 0.1% and Hong Kong's Hang Seng was off 0.1%.

Overnight on Wall Street both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq composite closed at highs.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average eased a touch, falling into negative territory in the final minutes of trading.

In currency markets, the U.S. dollar picked up against its basket of comparative currencies after three consecutive days of losses. It is down 0.7% so far this week.

Against the yen the dollar has slipped 0.25% so far this week.

The commodity-sensitive Australian dollar is up 0.6% this week while the euro has climbed 0.7% in the period.

The single currency was flat even as European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde warned about a renewed rise in COVID-19 infections and the prospect of prolonged restrictions that could challenge the region's economic outlook.

The ECB, which kept interest rates steady Thursday, also promised to provide more support for the economy if needed.

The dollar's recent slide has been led by market participants ploughing money into higher-yielding currencies on optimism about a rapid economic recovery led by the U.S. stimulus.

Popular cryptocurrency bitcoin fell to an almost three-week low Friday on selling following recent gains and worries about extra regulations.

In commodities, oil prices slipped after an unexpected buildup in U.S. crude stocks.

Brent was off 23 cents at $55.86 a barrel while U.S. crude inched 26 cents lower to $52.86.

Spot gold was down 0.2% at 1,865.5 an ounce.