Asia Markets

China stocks fell in final hour of trading; rest of Asia mixed

Asian shares turned mixed late Thursday, as mainland equity markets fell sharply in the afternoon session. Elsewhere in the region, Japan's Nikkei 225 index led gains on the back of strong earnings posted by its blue-chip stocks.

Overnight, Wall Street finished higher after the U.S. central bank said the economy and job market continued to strengthen. The and the S&P 500 closed up 0.7 percent, respectively, while the Nasdaq Composite added 0.4 percent.

Shanghai Comp tanks 2.2%

China's Shanghai Composite index went downhill in the last hour of trade, on the back of reports that banks were investigating their exposure to the stock market through wealth management products and loans collateralized with stocks, Reuters reported citing state media China Securities Journal.

Among other indexes, the CSI300 ended down 2.9 percent, while the smaller Shenzhen Composite shaved off 3.2 percent. in Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index eased 0.5 percent.

Decliners were led by property developers, brokerage houses and banks; Gemdale slumped 7.3 percent, while Poly Real Estate and China Vanke closed down 4.8 and 3.6 percent, respectively.

Founder Securities led losses among securities firms, with a plunge of 6.5 percent, while heavyweight components Bank of China and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China gave up 2.4 and 1.4 percent, respectively.

Playing China stocks? Take a long-term view: Pro

Nikkei jumps 1.1%

Japan's Nikkei 225 index ended at a near one-week high, as corporate earnings that were mostly positive gave related stocks a leg-up.

Nintendo was among the biggest winners, soaring 8.3 percent after the consumer electronics giant reported a surprise first-quarter operating profit late Wednesday.

Strong earnings also elevated shares of Hitachi, Hino Motors and NTT DoCoMo, which rallied 6.5, 6.9 and 4.7 percent, respectively. On the other hand, carmaker Nissan trimmed gains to 0.3 percent, after elevating 3 percent earlier in the session on the back of a 58 percent surge in first-quarter operating profit.

Mazda Motor closed up 4.2 percent after the carmaker's first-quarter operating profit beat market forecasts.

By contrast, Panasonic tumbled nearly 6 percent after its operating profit for the quarter came in below market expectations, while Fujitsu closed down 3.6 percent due to the announcement of an operating loss.

Market heavyweight Fanuc remained in focus for sinking 11 percent on the back of a cut in full-year profit forecast on Wednesday. Shares of the industrial robot maker recovered slightly today, inching up 0.2 percent.

On other corporate news, Showa Shell Sekiyu climbed 6.2 percent following a Nikkei business daily report that Idemitsu Kosan will buy a 33 percent stake in the company. Shares of Idemitsu finished 4 percent lower.

Meanwhile, Japan's industrial output rose 0.8 percent in June, according to government data released before the market open, bouncing from the prior month's 2.1 percent drop.

ASX gains 0.8%

Improved risk appetite in the U.S. overnight and a modest recovery in commodity prices helped Australia's index to advance on Thursday.

Gains in the resources sector propelled the bourse forward; Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton rose more than 2 percent each, while Fortescue Metals ended up 0.8 percent. Energy producers Santos and Oil Search tacked on 4.2 and 2.2 percent, respectively.

National Australia Bank continued to outperform its peers, with a rise of 1.1 percent following Wednesday's news that that it finished selling its U.S. unit.

On the domestic data front, export prices dropped 4.4 percent on-quarter in the April-June period, widening from a 0.8 percent slip in the preceding quarter. Import prices, meanwhile, rose 1.4 percent from the previous quarter, reversing a dip of 0.2 percent in the first three months of 2015, government statistics said.

Samsung's semiconductor unit is undervalued: Pro

Kospi loses 0.9%

Reversing a positive open, South Korea's Kospi index ended down nearly 1 percent at a three-week low, on the back of hefty losses in the tech sector.

Samsung Electronics closed down 3.8 percent to an eight-month closing low of 1,215,000 won, as a poor outlook for the third quarter eclipsed the second-quarter operating profit of 6.9 trillion won, which was in line with the guidance it provided earlier this month.

Internet content service operator Naver dropped 14 percent to its lowest level since September 2013, following a weak second-quarter earnings report. Profit for the June quarter totaled 124 billion won, below the forecast for 162 billion won.

Bucking the downtrend, insurers rallied, with Hyundai Marine & Fire and Samsung Life Insurance closing up 5 percent each, on the back of expectations that the recent outbreak of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) will life the quarterly earnings of insurers.