Mainland indices down
China's benchmark Shanghai Composite slid deeper into negative turf in late trading, closing down 3.4 percent. The dramatic moves on Thursday mirrored similar action in the past two trading sessions, notably on Wednesday when the Shanghai bourse staged a U-turn in the final hour of trading to end up 1.2 percent, on the back of state-backed buying.
According to IG market analyst Angus Nicholson, the China Securities Finance Corporation (CSFC) continued to buy stocks today thereby helping the key stock index to claw back some losses during late-morning trade. However, going by the downward lurch in the afternoon trading session, they didn't seem enough to shore up investor confidence.
Most sectors in Shanghai languished, with transport, banks and brokerages leading the decline.
Among China's other indexes, the blue-chip CSI300 and the smaller Shenzhen Composite ended down 3.2 and 3 percent, respectively.
"The volatility remains because there is no clear narrative of what is going on. When you look at China, you see a government groping for answers and not looking impressive. I am not saying we are on the brink of collapse, but expect continuing volatility and a general downward trend," said independent analyst Fraser Howie.
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In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index fell 1.8 percent to an eight-month low, with carrier Cathay Pacific and gaming counters down on earnings releases.
Shares of the Hong Kong flag carrier tumbled 3.3 percent to a nine-month low, as first-half profit missed expectations despite rising six-fold from a year earlier.
Galaxy Entertainment slumped more than 6 percent after posting a 46 percent plunge in second-quarter earnings on the back of higher operation cost from its new casino resorts and a faltering market in Macau.
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ASX skids 1.7%
Australia's S&P ASX 200 index ended at its lowest close since January 23, as renewed weakness in metals and oil prices exerted pressure on the resources and energy counters.
Copper producer Oz Minerals sagged 2.4 percent, while bigger miners such as BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto plunged 3.1 and 2.5 percent, respectively. Santos and Woodside Petroleum tanked 7.1 and 3.6 percent, respectively, as oil prices extended losses in Asian trade.
Meanwhile, lenders also finished in the red, with Commonwealth Bank of Australia being the top laggard with a loss of 2.7 percent.
On the corporate earnings front, Qantas Airways announced a return to full-year profit on the back of a tough cost-cutting program and tailwinds from cheaper fuel costs. However, shares of the flying kangaroo erased early gains to close down 6.1 percent.
AMP similarly changed course to drop 1.8 percent, despite delivering a 3 percent jump in half-year profit and lifted its interim dividend to 14 cents a share.
Bucking the downtrend, Wesfarmers gained 0.6 percent after meeting expectations with an annual net profit of $1.79 billion in the year to June.