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Asian shares fall on taper speculation; Plenum disappointment

Asian equity markets followed their Wall Street peers lower on Wednesday as heightened talk about a scaling back of the Federal Reserve's monetary stimulus weighed on sentiment.

Investors were also disappointed with the lack of concrete details on policy reforms announced at China's Third Plenum meeting. Leaders pledged to let markets play a decisive role in the economy over the next decade, but no further details were provided.

The CNBC Asia 100 index, which tracks the performance of the largest companies in the Asia Pacific region, fell 1 percent to a one-month low.

(Read more: Too soon to dismiss China's 'vague' plenum?)

Symbol
Name
Price
 
Change
%Change
NIKKEI
---
HSI
---
ASX 200
---
SHANGHAI
---
KOSPI
---
CNBC 100
---

All eyes on Fed

Comments from Fed governor Ben Bernanke later on Wednesday will be watched for further hints on the direction of monetary policy. Meanwhile, Vice Chairman Janet Yellen will testify before the Senate Banking Committee during her confirmation hearing on Thursday.

Speaking to CNBC earlier on Tuesday, U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew stressed that the world cannot rely on the U.S. to support the global economy.

"The message that we are bringing in my conversation is you have to look at how sustainable growth is going to be achieved and it is a similar message here [in Asia] and in Europe. Demand growth is critical. U.S. growth cannot make up for a lack of demand growth," he said.

Shanghai down 1.8%

The benchmark Shanghai Composite ended its lowest levels since August 23 after Beijing failed to provide a clear direction on economic policy following the Third Plenum.

"While the [Plenum] communiqué may have disappointed some, it is normal practice for the post-event statement to cover only broad principles. We expect a detailed version of the Decision and comprehensive reform agenda in the coming week," said Jian Chang, China economist at Barclays.

Financials bore the brunt of losses after data showed bad loans rose by the largest amount in eight years in the third quarter. Pudong Development Bank closed down nearly 5 percent while Haitong Securities and Minsheng Bank fell over 4 percent each.

(Read more: China's early-bird investors are left holding the worm)

Nikkei 0.1% lower

Weak economic data tempered optimism over a weaker currency in Japan's share market as dollar-yen hovered around Tuesday's one-month high of 99.70.

September core machinery orders fell 2.1 percent from the previous month, signalling that Prime Minister's Shinzo Abe's plans to boost capital expenditure still haven't succeeded.

(Read more: Are the stars re-aligning for dollar-yen?)

Sumitomo Mitsui Financial ended 1.6 percent higher after raising its net profit outlook for the year through March by 5.5 percent.

Sony rose nearly 3 percent after activist investor Daniel Loeb told CNBC overnight that he maintains a good relationship with the tech giant.

Sydney 1.4% lower

Australia's benchmark index ended at a four-week low thanks to sharp declines in financials. Australia and New Zealand Banking, Commonwealth Bank of Australia and National Australia Bank skidded over 2 percent each

Warrnambool Cheese rallied 6.5 percent after Murray Goulburn Co-operative raised its takeover offer for the dairy firm.

In earnings news, building products firm CSR shot up 9 percent after reporting that its first-half net profit almost tripled. Retailer Myer Holdings jumped over 2 percent after announcing a 0.4 percent rise in first-quarter sales.

Seoul slips 1.4%

Data showing that offshore investors were net sellers for a seventh straight session on Tuesday damped sentiment in South Korea, leading the Kospi index to a new two-month low.

Investors booked profits on large-cap stocks that have rallied in recent session. Index heavyweight Samsung Electronics fell 2.5 percent following the firm's 2 percent rally on Tuesday while LG Display slipped 2 percent.

Amid emerging markets, Indonesia's Jakarta Composite fell 1.8 percent while Indian shares followed suit and finished 0.4 percent lower.

By CNBC.com's Nyshka Chandran. Follow her on Twitter @NyshkaCNBC

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