China markets up
China's key Shanghai Composite trimmed gains to close up 1.9 percent. The climb saw the index take its rally from its August 26 low to more than 20 percent, meaning it is now in a technical bull market. Earlier in the session, the Shanghai bourse hit intra-day highs of 3,585 points, which was the index's highest level since August 21.
Securities firms were the clear winners on Thursday; Industrial Securities, Huatai Securities, Founder Securities and Everbright Securities hit the daily upward limit of 10 percent, while China Merchants Securities, Citic Securities and Haitong Securities tacked on between 5.9 and 7.5 percent.
Banks got a lift from the positive sentiment surrounding the securities firms, with Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) and Bank of China rallying about 2 percent each.
Among other indexes, the blue-chip CSI300 Index surged 2.1 percent, but small-caps in the mainland lagged. The Nasdaq-style ChiNext board eased 0.7 percent.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng index also fell short of the advances, inching down marginally amid choppy trade.
China Southern Airlines clawed back early losses to bounce up 4.7 percent in Shanghai, unaffected by news that its chairman Si Xianmin was being investigated by China's anti-graft officials for 'severe disciplinary violations." The airline's Hong Kong-listed stock also rebounded 1 percent.
Glencore shares surged 6 percent in Hong Kong after the commodity trader announced Wednesday plans to cut debt by selling assets.
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ASX loses 0.9%
Weakness in the banking sector led Australia's S&P ASX 200 index lower on Thursday.
National Australia Bank was the biggest loser after going ex-dividend; shares tumbled 4.5 percent. Commonwealth Bank of Australia, which announced first-quarter unaudited cash earnings of A$2.4 billion ($1.7 billion) early Thursday, gave up early gains and fell 1 percent. Westpac and Australia and New Zealand Banking eased 0.5 and 0.8 percent respectively.
Miners struggled amid falling iron ore prices; major players such as BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto lost 0.8 and 1.4 percent respectively.
Gold counters also remained on the back foot after gold prices lingered near 1-month lows in Asian trade. Newcrest Mining and Evolution Mining slid more than 3 percent each, while Kingsgate Consolidated ended 6.2 percent lower.
Virgin Australia failed to get a boost from results which showed the airline swung back to profit in the first quarter. The stock retreated 1 percent.