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Asian stocks weak, earnings watched; Nikkei skids nearly 2%

Asian equity markets ended lower on Thursday due to profit-taking and as investors focused on regional earnings reports.

A lackluster handover from the U.S. also weighed on sentiment. Wall Street shares ended mixed with Procter & Gamble's reduced earnings outlook weighinh on the Dow Jones Industrial Average while the S&P was little changed after its largest four-day rise in more than a year on Tuesday.

(Read more: Are emerging market companies the real worry?)

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

Nikkei skids 1.8%

Japan's benchmark Nikkei index retreated from the previous day's two-week high, snapping three straight sessions of gains, following a pause in the yen's decline. The currency strengthened to 102 per dollar, moving off Wednesday's two-week low.

Brewers were among the worst performers with Sapporo and Asahi down over 4 percent each after forecasting weaker-than-expected 2014 operating profits. Kirin lost 0.3 percent ahead of reporting earnings later in the day.

SoftBank lost 3.5 percent despite reporting a 3.3 percent rise in operating profit after Wednesday's market close. Separately, CEO Masayoshi Son said its U.S. wireless subsidiary, Sprint, needs to make another acquisition in the U.S.

Toyota Motor fell over 2 percent after announcing it will recall two million Prius cars globally.

Shanghai 0.5% lower

Mainland shares fell for the first time in five days due to weakness in the property sector, which led the benchmark Shanghai Composite further away from Tuesday's one-month high.

Poly Real Estate lost 2 percent after posting a 3.1 percent annual fall in January contract sales. The news sparked 2 percent falls for Gemdale and China Merchants Property as well.

(Read more: Is China using gold to internationalize the yuan?)

Environmental stocks declined despite news that the government will set up a fund with a $1.6 billion war chest. Beijing Capital and Chongqing Water lost 1 and 2 percent, respectively.

In Hong Kong, Lenovo fell 1 percent despite quarterly net income rising an annual 29 percent.

Sydney flat

Australia's benchmark S&P ASX 200 index erased gains after hitting a three-week high earlier in the session, breaking its five-day winning streak after the January jobless rate rose to a decade high. The dismal data saw the Australian dollar tumble 1 percent, falling below 90 U.S. cents and retreating from Wednesday's one-month high.

(Read more: Australia's job picture keeps getting uglier)

"Personally, I feel the RBA won't be too swayed by this report, especially given the lag effect and a number of leading indicators suggests better times ahead. The key for future cuts now falls on the looming private capex figures and future inflation reads, however my view is that rates are on hold for some time to come," said Chris Weston, chief market strategist at IG.

Telstra rallied 0.8 percent after posting a 9.2 percent rise in net profit, the Australian Securities Exchange rose 1.6 percent after posting a 10.8 percent profit rise and the nation's biggest toll road operator Transurban added 0.2 percent despite a modest decline in net profit.

After the market close, Rio Tinto reported a 45 percent jump in second-half profit, beating forecasts.

Kospi falls 0.5%

South Korean shares erased gains after hitting a three-week high earlier in the session, ending a six-day winning streak, on heavy foreign selling. Investors also reacted to news that the Bank of Korea left its base rate steady for a ninth straight month, as expected.

Blue-chip stocks like Samsung and Kia Motors inched down 0.7 and 0.4 percent, respectively.

Meanwhile, the won reversed gains after hitting a near-one month high against the dollar for a second straight session.

India slips 1.2%

Indian shares fell after data on Wednesday showed retail inflation slowed to a two-year low in January while industrial production fell for a third straight month in December.

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

Symbol
Price
 
Change
%Change
NIKKEI
---
ASX 200
---
PG
---
DJIA
---
S&P 500
---
TLS
---
ASX
---
2503.T
---
RIO
---
TCL
---
AUD/USD
---
27
---
6657
---
9984.T
---
7203.T
---
USD/KRW
---
6753.T
---
6758.T
---
JPY/USD
---
6752.T
---
2501.T
---
593
---
2502.T
---
S
---
SHANGHAI
---
1939
---
USD/CNY
---
992
---

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