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Asia stocks mixed in cautious trade; central banks in focus

Trading in Asia was cautious on Thursday with central bank decisions in Japan and Europe in focus.

As expected, the Bank of Japan left its its monetary policy on hold at the conclusion of a two-day review and kept its economic assessment unchanged. Focus now turns to the European Central Bank's policy meeting, with some anticipating it could unveil new stimulus measures following dismal inflation and factory activity data.

Read MoreJust what are the ECB's bond-buying options?

"Whatever the outcome of tonight's meeting, the [market's] malaise is likely to be broken. The likelihood for surprise and disappointment is high which will see trading activity return, regardless of the outcomes," said Evan Lucas, market strategist at IG, in a morning note.

In geopolitical news, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that he spoke to his Ukrainian counterpart Petro Poroshenko on the phone and while there was no peace deal, Putin issued a 7 point plan to end the bloodshed in southeast Ukraine. Negotiators from Kiev, Moscow and pro-separatist rebels are due for more talks on Friday.

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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Nikkei dips 0.3%

Japan's benchmark Nikkei index took a breather after ending at seven-month highs in the past two sessions, snapping a three-day winning streak.

Read MoreAbenomics approaches a moment of reckoning

Nissan Motor jumped 1 percent after posting an 11.5 percent annual rise in U.S. August sales.

Sony eased 0.8 percent after unveiling two new wearable devices on Wednesday in an attempt to bolster sales at its struggling mobile business.

Read MoreSony CEO: Why we need to stay in smartphones

Shanghai up 0.7%

China's benchmark Shanghai Composite hit another 14-month peak, up for the fifth straight day, while Hong Kong stocks were flat following Wednesday's 2 percent rally.

Real-estate developers rallied on reports that China will ease financing rules for some property firms by allowing them to sell medium-term notes in the interbank market. China Vanke jumped 1.8 percent while Poly Real Estate added 1 percent.

ASX 0.5% lower

Australian shares extended losses into a second day, closing at a near one-week low despite stronger-than-expected trade data. July's trade deficit narrowed to A$1.36 billion, lower than the A$1.5 billion deficit that markets were expecting.

Read MoreHere's why commodities have been getting crushed

Hotel reservation site Wotif.com tumbled over 4 percent after regulators said Expedia's planned takeover of the firm could result in hotels being charged higher fees for listing with online sites.

Kospi gains 0.2%

South Korea's benchmark Kospi index rebounded from Wednesday's three-week closing low thanks to a 1.8 percent jump in Samsung Electronics after the firm unveiled two new devices in New York.

Read MoreDid Samsung do enough to challenge iPhone 6?

investors also digested revised second-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) data, which rose 0.5 percent on quarter, lower than estimates and below the first quarter's 0.6 percent rise.

Nifty dips 0.5%

Indian shares pulled back after three straight record highs as investors engaged in profit-taking.

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