ASX loses 1.4%
Australia's S&P ASX 200 index finished at its lowest level since January 27, chalking up a four-day losing streak, after soft economic data dampened trading sentiment. April retail sales came in flat from the month before, missing expectations for a 0.4 percent rise, while trade balance showed a wider-than-expected deficit of A$3.8 billion.
The resources sector suffered steep losses, with gold producer Newcrest Mining and energy play Oil Search closing down 3.3 and 2.3 percent, respectively. Among miners, Fortescue Metals was the biggest loser with a slump of 3.17 percent.
Retailers were also in focus following the dismal retail sales data; Harvey Norman was the sole bright spot in the sector, up 2.3 percent, while JB Hi-Fi and Myer lost 0.3 and 2.8 percent, respectively. Grocery supplier MetCash tumbled nearly 20 percent after saying it would scrap its dividend and take a $498 million impairment charge.
Shares of SEEK pared earlier gains to close down 0.3 percent following news that the jobs website will fork out $125 million to boost its majority stakes in Seek Asia and OCC Mundial.
Meanwhile, National Australia Bank is reportedly in exclusive talks with Japan's Nippon Life to sell the bank's life insurance division, according to the Australian Financial Review. Shares of the lender widened losses throughout the day to end down 2.06 percent.
Speaking to CNBC about whether the Australian market could see a rebound soon, David Solusky, head of investment strategy at UBS Wealth Management, said: "Banks have been sold fairly hard over the past week, alongside an iron ore rebound, [so] when we look at the very near term, we can see a bounce off those levels. But I think over the medium term, there are a lot of headwinds for the equity market to advance back to the level of 5,900."