Asia stocks mostly lower; Nikkei snaps 5-day losing streak

Asian equities ended mostly lower on Thursday as investors weighed developments in Russia and as focus turned to a raft of global central bank meetings.

Moscow said on Wednesday that it will strike back at Western sanctions by banning certain imports. U.S. poultry imports have already been suspended and officials say U.S. agricultural products and European fruits and vegetables will also be included. The move follows a statement by NATO on Wednesday that Russia amassed around 20,000 troops on Ukraine's border.

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The European Central Bank (ECB) and the Bank of England kick off their respective policy reviews later in the day followed by the Bank of Japan on Friday.

"The ECB, which has defied the zero bound of interest rates with negative deposit rates, will probably reassure markets that it still has flexible options in its tool box. But for now, the ECB will not commit to full-fledged QE (that entails buying bonds or other assets) given lagged effects of monetary policy and the Bundesbank's resistance," said Vishnu Varathan, senior economist at Mizuho Bank.

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Nikkei up 0.5%

Japan's benchmark Nikkei index reversed gains in the final hour of trade, rebounding from a more than one-month low and snapping a five-day losing streak on a Reuters report that the government's pension fund may increase its investment in domestic stocks.

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Renesas Electronics jumped as much as 4 percent after announcing that its operating profit for the April-June period nearly tripled while Square Enix Holdings soared 12 percent after hiking profit forecasts

SoftBank rose 1 percent following a more than 3 percent tumble in the previous session after CEO Masayoshi Son said the company's focus had shifted away from acquisitions.

China shares lower

Shanghai stocks eased over 1 percent to a one-week low, down for a third straight day and posting its worst day since June 19. Meanwhile, the yuan hit another four-month high ahead of Friday's July trade data.

Among the biggest laggards on the Shanghai Composite, PetroChina fell 1.5 percent while Inner Mongolia Yili Industrial lost 3 percent.

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In Hong Kong, Standard Chartered fell nearly 1 percent after reporting a 20 percent decline in interim pretax profit and announcing that it could face further fines from New York's financial regulator.

ASX flat

Australia's benchmark S&P ASX 200 ended its lowest level in nearly a month while the Australian dollar fell 1 percent against the greenback after data showed the economy lost 300 jobs in July, much worse than forecasts of an addition of 12,000 jobs.

Rio Tinto ticked up 0.7 percent ahead of reporting first-half results. After the market close, the miner announced that its profit rose 21 percent, beating expectations.

Tabcorp jumped over 3 percent after reporting a 2.6 percent rise in net profit.

Kospi loses 0.3%

South Korean shares finished at a one-and-a-half-week low, declining for a third session.

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Among the biggest losers on the benchmark Kospi, LG Electronics and LG Display lost over 1 percent each.

Nifty down 0.3%

Indian shares enjoyed a modest rebound after sinking nearly 1 percent in the previous session, but still managed to finished the session lower. The rupee strengthened against the dollar following Wednesday's five-month low.