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Asian stocks diverged on Wednesday, with China posting its worst one-day performance in five weeks after being hit by a sudden bout of selling in small-caps in the afternoon session.
On the other hand, the Nikkei index at the Tokyo Stock Exchange jumped nearly 2 percent to six-week highs, as weaker-than-expected trade data stoked expectations for further stimulus from the Bank of Japan (BOJ).
Exports rose 0.6 percent in September from a year earlier, data from the Ministry of Finance showed early Wednesday, missing expectations for a 3.4 percent rise and way below August's 3.1 percent gain.
Imports, meanwhile, shrunk 11.1 percent on-year in September, slightly better than expectations for a 11.7 percent annual drop, producing a trade deficit of 114.5 billion yen. Analysts had expected Japan to post a trade surplus of 84.4 billion yen.
Major U.S. averages slipped overnight, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average snapping a three-day winning streak, amid a decline in healthcare and biotech names. The blue-chip Dow and S&P 500 shed 0.1 percent each, while the Nasdaq Composite closed down 0.5 percent.
Mainland indices tumble
China's share markets lurched lower in late-day trading to finish at near one-week lows.
The key Shanghai Composite index fell as much as 4.6 percent to 3,265.4 - its lowest level since August 21 - before clawing back up to eventually finish Wednesday 3.5 percent lower. Earlier in the session, the Shanghai bourse touched 3,447.2 points - a two-month peak - briefly.
Developers and brokerage were among the names that came under immense pressure. Shanghai Shimao and Gemdale declined 7.1 and 4.8 percent respectively, while Founder Securities led losses among securities firms with a slump of 7.1 percent.
Heavyweight component PetroChina, meanwhile, closed down 1 percent.
Shares of Huaneng Power fell 4.5 percent after the listed unit of China's biggest power generator delivered a 11.2 percent rise in third-quarter net profit on Tuesday, marking its weakest pace in three quarters amid slowing growth in the mainland.
Bucking the weakness, banking counters helped to limit the bourse's losses. Bank of Communications and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) finished up more than 2 percent each, while Bank of China rose 1.8 percent.
Among other indexes, the CSI300 Index erased early gains to slide 2.9 percent.
Small-caps underperformed as investors took profits after recent strong gains. The Shenzhen Composite tumbled 6 percent and the start-up ChiNext board plummeted 6.5 percent.
Hong Kong markets are closed for the Chung Yeung Festival.
Nikkei rises 1.9%
Japan's Nikkei 225 index outperformed the region to end at its highest level since September 9.
ASX ticks up 0.2%
Australia's S&P ASX 200 index rebounded as banking heavyweights stabilized from the prior day's selling.
The banking sector had been hit by news that Australia's government has accepted most recommendations of an inquiry calling for a more comprehensive review of the country's financial sector. Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Australia and New Zealand Banking rebounded 0.1 and 0.6 percent respectively, while Westpac and National Australia Bank slipped 0.3 and 0.1 percent respectively,
Gains across the resources sector also helped to support the bourse.
Market bellwether BHP Billiton advanced 1 percent after the global miner announced a 7 percent boost in iron ore production for the September quarter, while maintaining full-year guidance at 247 million tonnes.
Kospi adds 0.2%
South Korea's Kospi index recouped early losses to finish the day marginally higher, thanks to hefty buy orders for some stocks.
Steelmaker Posco closed up nearly 6 percent, recovering from a brief negative open, after reporting its highest quarterly operating profit in more than two years for the September quarter.
Shares of Cheil Worldwide leaped 8.8 percent on the back of a wider-than-expected rise in third-quarter operating profit.
Among decliners, chipmaker SK Hynix and retailer Shinsegae tumbled 5.7 and 2.1 percent respectively.