Asia Markets

Asian stocks end mixed as Fed taper fears weigh

Asian equity markets were mixed on Thursday as risk appetite was dampened by fears of a reduction in the Federal Reserve's stimulus program.

South Korea's Kospi closed at a new three-and-a-half month high, while both the Shanghai Composite and Australia's pared gains to retreat from their respective highs.

Amid losers, Japan's Nikkei dipped 0.3 percent while Indian stocks lost 0.7 percent.

Risk events on tap

Following U.S. President Barack Obama's speech on Syria, Secretary of State John Kerry and his counterpart Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will be meeting on Thursday to discuss Moscow's diplomatic resolution for Syria.

(Read more: Syria talks could decide fate of stealth stock rally)

This will be the taper impact on US assets

Apart from Syria, investor attention remains on next week's meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee amid expectations that the central bank could announce a tapering of its bond-buying program.

Shanghai up 0.6%

China's benchmark stock index rallied as much as 1 percent in afternoon trade but pared gains to retreat from a three-month high, hit earlier in the session.

Supportive comments from Premier Li Keqiang on Wednesday lifted sentiment in the mainland. Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Dalian, Keqiang said that the government will push on with economic and financial reforms as it aims for steady growth.

Shipping stocks extended the previous day's rally after the Baltic Dry Index jumped nearly 6 percent on Wednesday. China Shipping Container Lines surged by the daily 10 percent trading limit for a third consecutive session.

(Read more: Goldman tips playing China's rebound)

Real-estate developers fell on news that China's property tax may be expanded. Gemdale led losses by over 1 percent.

Nikkei slips 0.3%

Japan's benchmark index fell into negative territory on disappointing economic data and as dollar-yen retreated from the key 100 handle, leading the Nikkei to pull back from the previous session's seven-week high of 14,561 points.

Core machinery orders for July, a key indicator of capital expenditure, came in unchanged from the previous month, casting doubt on whether Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's stimulus policies have encouraged corporates to increase spending.

(Read more: This is the world's most expensive asset class)

Time for Japan to get women in the workplace

Sharp fell 6 percent on media reports that the consumer firm is planning to raise as much as $150 million through a public share offering in an attempt to bolster its finances.

Mitsubishi Motors was the index's worst-performing stock, down 8 percent after the Nikkei newspaper reported that the automaker plans to offer $2 billion in shares to the public in order to to buy back preferred shares.

Kospi flat

South Korea's benchmark index ended above the 2,003 mark to hit its highest levels since May 31 after the Bank of Korea said the domestic economy was improving following it's decision to leave interest rates unchanged at 2.5 percent.

Apple chip suppliers extended the previous day's losses after the U.S. tech giant slumped over 5 percent in U.S. trade. Memory chip maker LG Display lost over 4 percent.

Sydney 0.1% higher

Australia's benchmark index pared gains in afternoon trade after rising above 5,246 point to its highest levels since June 2008 as investors digested soft jobs data.

The number of people employed fell 10,800 in August - much worse than expectations for a rise of 10,000. The news saw the Australian dollar fall off it's three-month high of $0.9353, hit earlier in the session.

Gold miners weighed on the index after spot gold hit a new three-week low. Perseus Mining tanked 5.4 percent while Kingsate Consolidated lost over 6 percent.

India down 1.08%

India's benchmark index continued to trade below the 20,000 mark as caution set in ahead of July factory data and August retail inflation figures, due to be released after the market close. The Sensex closed down 1.08 percent.

Meanwhile, the rupee was 0.3 percent stronger at 63.4 per dollar.

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