Asian indices join global rout but Sydney bucks downtrend

Mounting anxiety over global growth and the spread of Ebola dragged Asian bourses lower on Thursday, except for Australian stocks, which ended slightly higher after early declines.

"Asia is predictably lower today as the region reacts to the carnage seen through European and U.S. trade. However, the recovery seen in the U.S. has played a key role in Asia, [helping] some markets to come off their lows," wrote IG's market strategist Stan Shamu.

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U.S. stocks closed lower on Wednesday, but retraced some lost ground in late trading from historic intraday losses, as disappointing economic data fueled growth fears, which were compounded by the spread of Ebola after a second case was reported in the U.S.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 1 percent. The S&P 500 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq ended down 0.8 percent and 0.3 percent, respectively.

ASX 200
CNBC 100

Tokyo tumbles 2.2%

Japan's Nikkei index closed at a fresh four-and-a-half-month low of 14,738 on late Thursday, as a stronger yen — trading near 106 against the U.S. dollar on the back of safe haven bids — ignited risk-off sentiment.

Exporters suffered the greatest hit; Toyota Motor lost 1.9 percent, retracing some lost grounds after hitting a near five-month low. Sharp and Honda Motor led declines with nearly 4 percent losses, respectively.

The country's biggest temporary staffing company Recruit Holdings made a solid debut on the Tokyo Stock Exchange on Thursday, bucking the downbeat sentiment to rise more than 6 percent.

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Mainland shares lower

China's Shanghai Composite index surrendered early gains to close down 0.7 percent on late Thursday, dragged by declines in the steel and real estate sectors. Among losers, Baoshan Iron and Steel receded 2 percent.

Chinese lenders made $140 billion worth of new loans in September, data showed on Thursday, beating expectations in a sign that demand for credit may be picking up. As a result, ICBC and Bank of Communications picked up 0.6 and 0.3 percent, respectively.

Hong Kong stocks remained downbeat on Thursday, tanking 0.6 percent as the city's pro-democracy protests continued into the third week amid renewed clashes between police forces and protesters.

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Sydney rebounds 0.2%

Australia's S&P ASX 200 index rebounded from steep losses to finish modestly higher as financials helped to offset losses from the battered resources sector.

National Australia Bank closed up 1 percent while Commonwealth Bank of Australia, along with Australia and New Zealand Bank, climbed 0.6 percent each.

A better-than-expected third quarter production report also helped oil and gas producer Woodside Petroleum, which traded 1.7 percent higher.

Fortescue Metals was one of the top losers for the day, slumping 6 percent despite announcing a 60 percent on-year rise in September quarter shipments.

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Seoul down 0.4%

South Korean shares entered a two-day losing streak on renewed global growth concerns. Earlier in the morning trade, the Kospi index touched a fresh 8-month intraday low of 1,904.

Among blue-chips, Hyundai Motor led declines with a 4 percent loss after its third quarter domestic sales grew at the slowest pace this year. Sister-firm Kia Motors also closed down 3 percent.

Discount store operator E-mart traded 1 percent lower, after reporting a 27.5 percent fall in operating earnings during the July-September period.

Meanwhile, the country's finance minister said on Thursday that South Korea's economy faces downside risks which could endanger the government's growth target of 3.7 percent this year.

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Nifty flat

Indian shares got off lightly by comparison, trading modestly below the flatline on Thursday.