ASX tanks 2.3%
Australia's S&P ASX 200 index crashed to a three-month low, as the sell-off in banking shares worsened after Commonwealth Bank of Australia announced flat third-quarter cash earnings before the market open.
Shares of the country's biggest lender by market value slumped 5.9 percent, while National Australia Bank and Westpac closed down 2.7 and 3.7 percent each. Australia and New Zealand Banking Group succumbed to the downward pressure in the afternoon session, widening losses to 2.7 percent from an earlier 0.5 percent.
Financials were also weighed down by speculation that the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) may be putting a stop to its easing cycle, after the central bank put out surprisingly upbeat comments on Tuesday.
Market bellwether BHP Billiton is in focus as shareholders gather in Perth and London to vote on the miner's plan to demerge into two new entities. Share prices of the mining giant reversed a higher open to shed 0.6 percent.
Meanwhile, Australia's retail sales rose 0.3 percent in March, missing expectations for an increase of 0.4 percent from the previous month. As such, retailers were lackluster, with Harvey Norman and JB Hi-Fi losing 2.1 and 1.4 percent each. Supermarket operator Woolworths slid 5 percent after posting its first quarterly sales decline in more than 2 decades.
Kospi loses 1.3%
South Korea's key Kospi index reopens for trade on a dismal note, as declines offshore and profit-taking took the bourse down to a three-week trough. The Seoul index was closed on Tuesday for Children's Day.
Brokerages were among the biggest losers, with Daewoo Securities and Samsung Securities plunging 11.8 and 9.5 percent, respectively. Tech-related plays also underperformed, mirroring losses in their U.S. counterparts; South Korea's top weighted stock Samsung Electronics closed down 2.7 percent, while SK Hynix declined 3.2 percent.
Hyundai Motor, which is in the news for recalling 2,580 units of its 2015 Accent model, gave up earlier gains to sag 0.3 percent.
After falling short of market expectations with a first-quarter net income of 442.8 billion won ($409.5 million), mobile carrier SK Telecom finished 3.6 percent lower.