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Asian equities tumble on US earnings, weak commodities

Asian stock markets outside Shanghai stumbled on Wednesday, hurt by lackluster earnings on Wall Street and the fall in commodity prices.

Spot gold plunged to $1,092 an ounce by mid-day, struggling to move away from five-year lows. Energy prices also stayed downbeat, with West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude falling 1.5 percent to $50.12 a barrel, and Brent crude for September down nearly 1 percent to $56.54 a barrel.

Overnight, lackluster earnings from a few blue chips pressured the Dow Jones Industrial Average down 1 percent. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite shed 0.4 and 0.2 percent, respectively.

Among the tech titans releasing corporate results, Apple unveiled better-than-expected earnings for the third quarter, but shares dropped sharply in after-hours trading as the iPhone maker's forecast for the next quarter disappointed.

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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Mainland markets mixed

Bucking the regional downtrend, China's benchmark Shanghai Composite index recouped losses to finish 0.2 percent higher.

"If investors in China are confident that the Chinese government will hold the line, then the margin debt will unwind slowly and end up stabilizing around current levels. While there are still concerns about ChiNext and small-cap stocks which remain overvalued, the price-to-earnings multiples isn't excessive by global standards if you look at the large-cap indexes," Shane Oliver, head of investment strategy and chief economist at AMP Capital, told CNBC Asia's "Squawk Box."

"From a valuation point of view, I don't see a major problem with China's equity markets and with the authorities set to continue easy monetary conditions, I think that the rising trend established in the previous sessions will probably continue," he added.

Elsewhere in the country, the blue-chip CSI300 index slipped 0.2 percent, while the smaller Shenzhen Composite closed up 1 percent. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index fell 1.1 percent.

Specific stocks in focus include China Construction Bank which settled 0.6 percent lower in Shanghai, following news that the Federal Reserve told the bank to do more to fight money laundering on Tuesday.

Nikkei loses 1.2%

The overnight losses in Apple's shares took the wind out of the sails of Japan's Nikkei 225, which pulled back from its highest close since June 25 attained in the previous session.

Apple-related shares such as Murata Manufacturing Co. tumbled 4.6 percent, while Foster Electric Co. and TDK Corp. fell 5.6 and 2.3 percent, respectively.

Steep losses in the banking sector also weighed on the bourse; Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group closed down 1.9 and 2.4 percent, respectively.

Toshiba remained in focus after its CEO resigned in the wake of an independent report on the company's 152 billion yen ($1.2 billion) accounting scandal, which accused the management of padding profits. Shares of the Japanese conglomerate turned negative in the afternoon session to end down 1.7 percent. Earlier in the day, the stock hit a two-week high of 407.5 yen after a 6.1 percent rally on Tuesday.

ASX falls 1.6%

Australia's S&P ASX 200 index broke a six-session winning streak amid a sell-off in banking and resources plays.

BHP Billiton sagged 2 percent after announcing its latest company production report. The global miner beat its own production guidance for iron ore in fiscal 2015 and said it was on track for additional growth in the current year following major expansion work. BHP also flagged a further hit to its full-year underlying profit of up to $650 million, chiefly linked to writedowns in its copper business. Meanwhile, shares of its new spin-off South32 eased 2.2 percent.

Within the financial sector, the big four lenders widened declines to more than 1 percent each, while Macquarie Group lost 1.3 percent.

Apart from stumbling commodity prices, second-quarter consumer price index (CPI) and a speech by the Reserve Bank of Australia governor also sparked some reaction in the local markets.

Consumer prices down under rose 0.7 percent on-quarter in the April-June period, just shy of the 0.8 percent gain expected by Reuters economists, but up from a 0.2 percent increase in the January quarter.

In his speech at the Anika Foundation, governor Glenn Stevens said further interest rate cuts remain on the table, prompting an immediate fall in the Australian dollar to $0.7377 against the greenback. The local currency has since recovered to trade at $0.7420 by the end of Asian trade.

Kospi drops 0.9%

South Korea's Kospi index headed south, in line with regional weakness, while the U.S. dollar fetched 1,50.1 won, as the local currency strengthened after tapping a two-year low of 1,158 won against the U.S. dollar in the previous session.

Blue chips traded mostly on the back foot, with Samsung Electronics and Kepco closing down 0.8 and 3.5 percent, respectively. Hyundai Motor reversed brief opening gains to recede 1.5 percent.

Meanwhile, LG Electronics denied market rumors of a stake purchase by Google, calling the rumor "complete speculation." Still. shares of the company outperformed the bourse to end up 3.1 percent at a more than three-week peak, after surging more than 7 percent earlier in the session.

Oil refiner S-Oil powered up 1.2 percent after saying on Wednesday it saw a recovery in industry-wide refining margins for the second half.

Taiex down 1%

Suppliers of Apple were hit following the quarterly results of the tech giant. Catcher Technology and Pegatron slumped 4.8 and 3 percent, respectively, while Hon Hai Precision Industry tanked 1.6 percent, taking the Taiwan bourse down to its lowest level since July 9.