ASX falls 0.8%
Australia's S&P ASX 200 index came off the day's lows, but settled at a six-week low as the Australian dollar remained near the 80 U.S. cent mark.
"There was clear exhaustion from the bulls at 5,990 points... and the signs are growing for the ASX to ease after rocketing up 7.8 percent year-to-date. There is nothing wrong with a healthy pullback," IG market strategist Evan Lucas said in a note.
The banking sector found itself on the back foot, due to bets that next week's earnings will likely miss expectations. Australia and New Zealand Banking and Westpac slumped over 2 percent each, while Commonwealth Bank of Australia and National Australia Bank closed down 1.8 percent, respectively.
The other casualty for the day was the telecommunications sector. Market heavyweight Telstra eased 1.4 percent.
Television broadcaster Ten Network shaved gains to finish flat after delivering a steep first-half net loss and warned that it may not be able to survive if advertising revenue falls more than expected.
Meanwhile, New Zealand's central bank kept interest rates steady as expected early Thursday, but indicated that it remained open to cutting rates if domestic demand weakens. The New Zealand dollar suffered a sharp drop, down 1.2 percent at 0.7590 against the U.S. dollar.
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Shanghai Comp sags 0.8%
After trading rangebound around the index's previous closing level all day, China's Shanghai Composite widened losses at the close as some transportation stocks gave up earlier gains.
Airline shares put up a robust showing on Thursday, with China Eastern Airlines soaring 6.7 percent on the back of positive first-quarter earnings. Buoyant sentiment also lifted China Southern Airlines and Hainan Airlines by more than 2 percent each, but Air China pulled back to close down 0.8 percent.
Lenders were stung by another slew of disappointing earnings. Bank of China and China Construction Bank posted their slowest first-quarter profit growth in 6 years, while Industrial and Commercial Bank of China saw net profit rise 1.4 percent, marking its slowest pace in 8 years. All three lenders sold off between 1.9 and 2.6 percent.
China CNR and CSR receded 4.5 and 3.9 percent each after Bombardier refuted reports that its train business could be acquired by the two Chinese train makers. The Canadian company told CNBC via email on Thursday that its "Bombardier Transportation is not for sale."