Asian shares mixed with Nikkei drifting low

Asian shares wer narrowly mixed on Thursday with the Nikkei drifting down.

The Nikkei 225 eased 0.44% while the Hang Seng inched up 0.10% and the Shanghai Composite fell 0.14%.

In Japan, Kobe Steel, Ltd. (5406.TOK) rose 2.3% after a Nikkei report it swung into the black in the last full year beating guidance.

Elsewhere in Asia, South Korea's KOSPI fell 0.2% after data showed that the country's first-quarter gross domestic product had grown 0.9% quarter-on-quarter, slightly weaker than expected, and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 added 0.2%

The absence of any significant catalysts kept many markets close to the break-even mark, leaving investors looking ahead for cues. In Japan, investors were waiting for the Japanese fiscal year earnings season to ramp up. Also in focus was U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Japan, which could lead to an announcement relating to the Trans-Pacific Partnership talks.

Overnight, U.S. stocks fell after data revealed new home sales disappointed in March with the Dow 30 easing 0.08%, the S&P 500 index declining 0.22% and the NASDAQ Composite index fell 0.83%.

The Commerce Department reported that sales of new homes in the U.S. fell to the lowest level since July 2013 in March.

Sales on new homes dropped 14.5% to a seasonally adjusted rate of 384,000, lower than analysts' forecasts for a sales rate of 450,000.

After the close of European trade, the DJ Euro Stoxx 50 fell 0.65%, France's CAC 40 fell 0.74%, while Germany's DAX fell 0.58%. Meanwhile, in the U.K. the FTSE 100 fell 0.11%.

On Thursday, the U.S. is to publish data on durable goods orders and the weekly report on initial jobless claims.