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China, Japan stocks buck downtrend in choppy trade

A pedestrian (L) looks at a share prices board showing the numbers on the Nikkei 225 at the Tokyo Stock Exchange in Tokyo, Japan.
Kazuhiro Nogi | AFP | Getty Images
A pedestrian (L) looks at a share prices board showing the numbers on the Nikkei 225 at the Tokyo Stock Exchange in Tokyo, Japan.

Asian stocks outside China and Japan declined on Thursday, after the Federal Reserve kept interest rates unchanged but signaled that a December rate hike was still on the table.

"The market, economists, commentators and the man on the street has combed over all aspects of the Fed statement, and it seems all have concluded that the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) will follow through with its commitment to raise rates at the December meeting. It's really the only conclusion you can draw from an almost nonchalant statement," IG's market strategist Evan Lucas wrote in a note.

A positive handover from Wall Street did little to help sentiment. Major U.S. averages surged more than 1 percent overnight, with the Nasdaq Composite leading gains, closing up 1.3 percent. The Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 rose 1.1 and 1.2 percent respectively.

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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Nikkei adds 0.2%

Japan's Nikkei 225 index turned positive amid choppy trade, even as upbeat factory output data indicated diminishing chances for further easing from the Bank of Japan (BOJ) at Friday's policy meeting.

Industrial production rose 1.0 percent on-month in September, official data showed early Thursday, beating expectations for a 0.5 percent drop.

"The industry outlook suggests a continued recovery of industry production in October. The September results and the stronger outlook could persuade the BOJ to maintain its current monetary easing policy at its board meeting," Harumi Taguchi, principal economist of IHS Global Insight, wrote in a note.

Securities firms were among the biggest losers on Thursday, following weaker-than-expected profits for the third quarter. Nomura Holdings and Daiwa Securities plunged nearly 3 percent each.

Nintendo skidded 9 percent after the game maker pushed back the much-awaited launch of its videogame service for smartphones by a few months to March 2016.

Machinery stocks bucked the downtrend; machine tool builder Okuma topped the leaderboard with a rise of 9.2 percent, after it raised its profit outlook for the year ending March and hiked dividend payouts. Komatsu advanced 1.8 percent.

Kospi sheds 0.4%

South Korea's Kospi index reversed direction to head south, as the bourse's heaviest-weighted stock Samsung Electronics trimmed gains to 1.3 percent by late Thursday.

Earlier in the session, shares of the tech giant surged as much as 6.4 percent to 1,392,000 won - its highest since May 4 - after announcing its first year-on-year profit gain in eight quarters, alongside plans to buy back 11.3 trillion won of its own shares.

Most tech counters got a boost from the rally in Samsung shares; LG Display and Naver advanced more than 2 percent each, but LG Electronics gave up early gains to tank 2.1 percent.

Read MoreSamsung shares jump after Q3 earnings, share repurchase

China stocks higher

Share markets in China edged up, with the key Shanghai Composite index closing up 0.4 percent.

Financials were among the key laggards; China Life Insurance tanked 1.2 percent on the back of a 74 percent plunge in third-quarter net profit. Bank of China, Bank of Communications and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) eased between 0.4 and 0.8 percent.

Among other indexes, the blue-chip CSI300 ticked up 0.2 percent, while the Shenzhen Composite notched up 0.8 percent.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index ticked down 0.4 percent to a one-week low.

GOME Electrical Appliances outperformed, up 11.4 percent, after the retailer said it will be buying 578 stores from its controlling shareholder at a discount of 20 percent.

ASX loses 1.3%

Australia's S&P ASX 200 index reversed a positive start to end lower on Thursday, as the sell-off in the resource and financial sectors intensified.

Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) widened losses to 2 percent, as the lender posted its lowest annual profit growth since the global financial crisis. National Australia Bank skidded 4 percent and Commonwealth Bank of Australia ended 0.6 percent lower.

Within the resources sector, BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto closed down more than 1 percent each, while a 1 percent drop in gold prices overnight led Newcrest Mining and Evolution Mining down more than 7 percent each.

Woolworths shares tumbled nearly 10 percent after the grocery chain said that weaker petrol prices took a toll on its first-quarter sales, while warning that first-half net profit will fall by up to a third as it embarks on a restructuring.

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) kept its benchmark interest rate steady at 2.75 percent on Thursday, in line with expectations. As a result, Kiwi shares ticked up modestly, while the New Zealand dollar fell 0.6 percent against the U.S. dollar to $0.6655.