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Oil's slump, poor Japan data spook Asian shares

Asian bourses slid again on Thursday, as falling oil prices and a worse-than-expected monthly indicator from Japan reinforced jitters about a sluggish global economy.

Japan's leading gauge of capital spending snapped a four-month rising streak in October. Core machinery orders fell 6.4 percent on month, worse than expectations for a 2.4 percent decline in a Reuters poll and slower than September's 2.9 percent increase. Year-on-year, machinery orders fell 4.9 percent in October, worse than expectations for a 0.3 percent decline.

Providing some relief is the announcement of Australia's employment data. For the month of November, the country added 42,700 jobs, above the 15,000 forecast by Reuters, data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) showed on Thursday. The jobless rate was 6.3 percent, up from 6.2 percent in October.

Meanwhile, South Korea's central bank kept interest rates unchanged for a second straight month on Thursday, in line with expectations, while observing the effects from its two rate cuts this year. Monetary policy decisions in the Philippines and Indonesia are also due late Thursday and no change is expected.

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Wall Street overnight

U.S. stocks closed sharply lower on Wednesday as the price of crude fell to a new five-year low and the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) cut its demand outlook for next year.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average had its worst day since October 9, closing down 1.5 percent at a one-month low. The S&P 500 also put up its worst performance since October 13, ending down 1.6 percent. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite lost 1.7 percent.

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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Tokyo tumbles 0.9%

Japanese shares settled at a two-week low late Thursday as dollar-yen bounced back above the 118 handle. Earlier on, the benchmark Nikkei 225 index hit a near-three-week low of 17,043 when the currency touched its highest levels in two weeks against the greenback, and after the release of worse-than-expected machinery orders.

Heavyweight components, including robot maker Fanuc and mobile carrier SoftBank, posted losses more than 1 percent, respectively.

Nissan and Honda Motor were in focus after announcing wider recalls over Takata air bag issues. Shares of the carmakers fell 0.3 and 1.2 percent each.

Read MoreJapan needs foreign workers, but will they come?

Mainland shares down

China's benchmark Shanghai Composite index closed down 0.5 percent on concerns over market liquidity after a slew of new listings were unexpectedly approved.

Financials and banking stocks suffered losses; Haitong Securities and Founder Securities plummeted more than 8 percent, respectively. Among lenders, Agricultural Bank of China and China Construction Bank retreated 2.3 and 3 percent each.

China notched its biggest market loss in five years on Tuesday after Beijing made a surprise move to rein in lending, fueling concerns about growth in the world's No. 2 economy. Markets flitted between gains and losses before eventually closing up 2 percent on Wednesday.

"[The volatility is] expected because it went up so quickly in the past few months. If it goes up that fast, you would expect that it could fall by 10 percent a day some time," Mark Matthews, Head of Research for Asia at Bank Julius Baer, told CNBC's "Street Signs Asia."

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index was similarly lackluster, falling 1 percent late Thursday. Meanwhile, police began clearing out "Occupy Central" protest sites since 9am on Thursday.

Sydney drops 0.5%

Helped by a better-than-anticipated employment data, Australia's key S&P ASX 200 index recovered from a two-month low of 5,188 attained in the morning session.

Banking majors pared most of their early losses, Macquarie Group eased 1.6 percent while Westpac Bank receded 0.9 percent.

Iron ore producers were among the biggest losers for the day; Fortescue Metals and Rio Tinto retreated 3.5 and 2.4 each. Oil and gas exploration company Santos plunged 8.3 percent after announcing a reduction in its projected 2015 capital expenditure to $2.0 billion, from the previous guidance of $2.7 billion.

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Seoul sinks 1.5%

South Korea's Kospi index tracked Asia-wide losses to finish at a five-week low on Thursday after the country's central bank kept rates on hold.

Blue-chip heavyweights dwindled in the red; South Korea's largest the largest electric utility Kepco and steel maker Posco slumped nearly 2 percent each.

Shares of the country's largest full-service carrier Korean Air Line surged 2.5 percent, recovering from reports which said that a key hotel construction project may be jeopardized by the "nut return" uproar.

Nifty loses 0.6%

Indian shares lost grounds to trade at levels unseen since October 31, with blue-chips leading the fall.