Tokyo, Japan (BBN)-Asian shares headed lower on Thursday as investors stayed on the sidelines ahead of a meeting of European leaders as Greece continued its last-minute efforts to avoid a default.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras held a late-night two-hour meeting with creditors on Wednesday after seven hours of discussions failed to produce a breakthrough in the debt deal talks, reports BBC.

Investors were cautious on signs of fresh problems in reaching a deal.

The Nikkei was down 0.1 per cent to 20,842.76.

The Japanese benchmark eased off 18-year highs after climbing to 20,868.03 in the previous session – marking levels unseen since 1996.

Shares of troubled auto parts maker Takata were up 0.8 per cent after news the company will hold a press conference later in the day on the status of its massive deadly airbag recall affecting major automakers.

Chinese shares followed the regional trend lower, with the Shanghai Composite down 0.1 per cent to 4,686.90, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was lower 0.3 per cent to 27,326.83.

In Australia, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 was down 0.6 per cent to 5,655.10 points.

Meanwhile, South Korean shares were lower after a key measure of consumer confidence dropped in June to its lowest level in two-and-a-half years on the outbreak of the deadly Middle East Respiratory Syndrome.

The Bank of Korea’s composite consumer sentiment index fell to 99 in June from 105 in May. This was the lowest level since December 2012 and the first time the index dropped below the neutral line of 100.

The benchmark Kospi was lower by 0.2 per cent to 2,082.06 points.