Reserve Bank of Australia
The Reserve Bank of Australia kept its benchmark lending rate unchanged at 2%Jason Reed/Reuters

Japanese shares recorded losses for the third straight session after figures released on 3 August suggested US economic activity slowed down recently.

The Nikkei benchmark index fell 0.4% to 20,473.08 points at mid-day after Japan's labour ministry said labour cash earnings declined 2.4% year-on-year in June.

Investors were also taking cues from Wall Street, where all major stock indices closed in the red.

On 3 August, the US Institute for Supply Management said its national factory activity index dropped to 52.7 in July from 53.5 in the previous month.

A reading above 50 indicates expansion while one below signals contraction.

In a separate report, the Department of Commerce said consumer spending, a key indicator of economic health, rose 0.2% in June compared to a 0.7% increase in May.

Shares in mainland China were in positive territory, with the Shanghai Composite benchmark climbing 1.7% to 3,684.41 after suffering losses for the past four sessions.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index edged down 0.2% to 24,361.98.

Steady interest rates

Meanwhile, Sydney's S&P/ASX 200 index was up 0.5% at 5,705.40 after the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) kept its key lending rate unchanged at a record low of 2%.

"While the rate of growth has been somewhat below longer-term averages, it has been associated with somewhat stronger growth of employment and a steady rate of unemployment over the past year," RBA chief Glenn Stevens said.

Data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed retail sales jumped 0.7% compared to the previous month in June, beating analyst expectations for a 0.5% increase.

However, the country's trade deficit widened to A$2.9bn (£1.4bn, €2bn, $2.1bn) in June from A$2.7bn in May on the back of falling commodity prices.

The Australian dollar was up 1.1% to A$0.736 per US dollar and rose 1% to A$0.471 per pound.

Seoul's KOSPI benchmark index advanced 1% to 2,027.99 after closing down in the previous session.

Consumer prices in South Korea spiked 0.7% on year in July, Statistics Korea said, unchanged from the June rate and in line with expectations.

Elsewhere in the region, India's central bank kept its benchmark lending rate unchanged at 7.25% as expected.