Mainland bourses mixed
China's Shanghai Composite closed up 0.2 percent after wavering between gains and losses on the back of softer-than-expected economic data.
Blue-chip banking stocks held up thereby capping declines on the bourses; Bank of China climbed 2 percent, while China Construction Bank and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China advanced 1.1 and 0.9 percent each. A positive showing by insurers also supported positive momentum in the bourse; China Life Insurance and China Pacific Insurance rose over 1 percent each.
In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index shed 0.6 percent to a 7-week low of 23,759.
Prudential pulled back 1.3 percent, resuming trade on Wednesday following news that chief executive officer Tidjane Thiam is leaving for the same job at Credit Suisse. Shares of the U.K. insurer remain halted in Singapore.
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Nikkei rises 0.3%
Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 reversed a lower open after receiving a leg-up from better-than-expected machinery orders. The leading indicator of capital spending for the month of January notched down 1.7 percent, smaller than the 4.1 percent slump estimated by Reuters' economists.
Clothing store chain operator Fast Retailing and robot maker Fanuc, all heavily weighted components, turned positive mid-morning thereby lifting the bourse.
Exporter stocks remained mixed even though dollar-yen inched up 0.2 percent to 121.2, leading to calls that the long-standing inverse correlation between the currency and Japanese stock prices has broken down.
"The [Yen-Nikkei] relationship has broken down to the extent that you have to be cautious about some of the exporters," Tim Seymour, CIO of Triogem Asset Management, told CNBC Asia's "Squawk Box." "I like what's going on in the auto sector as global demand continues to be very strong. But after the run Toyota Motor's had, there may be a case of a breakdown."
Among Japanese automakers, Nissan led declines with a 1 percent slump, while Honda and Suzuki Motor sold off 0.8 percent each. Toyota shed 0.2 percent.