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Asian equities subdued; Shanghai breaks 10-day rally

Asian equity markets struggled for direction on Wednesday following an uninspiring lead from Wall Street overnight and as worries over China's growth weighed on sentiment.

U.S. stocks closed lower on Tuesday as investors weighed the possibility that a stronger dollar could have on earnings. The Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 closed down 0.6 percent each, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq shed 0.3 percent.

Symbol
Name
Price
 
Change
%Change
NIKKEI
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HSI
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ASX 200
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SHANGHAI
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KOSPI
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CNBC 100
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Shanghai Comp drops 0.8%

China's Shanghai Composite took a breather on Wednesday, snapping a ten-session winning streak, as banking majors declined.

Agricultural Bank of China receded 2.1 percent, reversing an earlier gain of 0.3 percent, following news of an unexpected decline in profit as net fee income fell and bad-loan provisions increased. Other banking heavyweights such as Bank of China and China Construction Bank eased more than 2 percent each.

Industrial Bank and China Everbright Bank made it to the list of top losers, tanking 3.3 percent each.

Huaneng Power International lost nearly 3 percent in Shanghai after the country's largest power producer posted its weakest annual profit growth in three years.

In Hong Kong, Hutchison Whampoa was in focus after agreeing to acquire O2, the British cellphone unit under Telefonica. Shares of the Li Ka-shing-owned company rallied 2 percent, lifting the Hang Seng index up 0.5 percent.

Nikkei adds 0.2%

Japan's Nikkei 225 index rebounded into positive territory late afternoon, hovering near the 15-year closing high of 19,754 attained on Monday.

Profit-taking weighed on shares of Eisai, which lost 5.4 percent after having rocketed nearly 30 percent over the past two sessions. The drugmaker's stock has been supported by hopes that its drug can treat Alzheimer's disease.

NTT Docomo sagged over 1 percent after the Reserve Bank of India ruled out Tata Sons' proposal to pay a price higher than "'fair value" to buy out the Japanese telecom giant's stake in their joint venture.

Read MoreJapan's overseas stock buying spree pressures yen

ASX flat

Australia's S&P ASX 200 finished near the flatline, with the country's big four lenders offering some support after the central bank voiced confidence in tighter home loan standards.

National Australia Bank, Westpac and Australia & New Zealand Banking Group gained 0.81 percent, respectively, while Commonwealth Bank of Australia settled 0.9 percent higher.

"All four major banks are enjoying good operating conditions... with a modest recovery in credit growth and business credit growth is improving, albeit modestly from low levels. Credit quality continues to improve in Australia and we expect that to last for another 18 months," David Ellis, head of Australian Banking Research at Morningstar, told CNBC's "The Rundown."

However, declines in the energy sector and major miners limited the bourse's advances. Oil Search and Santos dropped 1 and 0.7 percent each, while BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto shed 0.4 and 0.9 percent, respectively. Fortescue Metals leaped 1.5 percent, seemingly unaffected by news that the country's competition watchdog has asked chairman Andrew Forrest to explain his call for global miners to join him in capping iron ore production.

Kospi flat

South Korea's Kospi index fluctuated between gains and losses before eventually closing up a whisker above the flatline.

Market bellwether Hyundai Motor chalked up a four-day losing streak, retreating nearly 3 percent, due to profit-taking. Other blue-chips such as KB Financial Group, Posco and Kepco made losses between 0.4 and 2.2 percent, while Samsung Electronics closed up 0.6 percent.

On the domestic corporate news front, Asiana Airlines said Tuesday its board of directors gave their go-ahead to set up another low-cost airline. Shares of the country's number 2 carrier closed down 0.5 percent. Meanwhile, shares of SSangyong Motor plunged over 2 percent on news of a change in leadership.

Earlier in the session, revised gross domestic product (GDP) showed the country expanded 0.3 percent in the final quarter of 2014, marking South Korea's slowest pace of growth since 2009.