Asian markets were trading lower early Wednesday, following overnight losses at Wall Street, as concerns about an early pullback of the Fed's asset purchase program continued to hurt sentiment.
The Nikkei was down 0.3% at 11:45 a.m. Tokyo time ahead of a speech by the Japanese premier Shinzo Abe later today.
U.S. stocks finished lower on Tuesday after Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City president Esther George reiterated her call to roll back monetary policy stimulus. George added that there was mounting evidence that some of the unintended consequences of the Fed's aggressive stimulus policy are starting to build.
Back in Asia, some economic reports were also in focus. Data released today showed Australia's economy expanded in the first quarter on the back of higher exports.
Meanwhile, China services purchasing managers' index climbed slightly to 51.2 in May as compared with 51.1 in April, a survey conducted by HSBC Holdings revealed Wednesday.
But the HSBC Hong Kong purchasing managers index fell to an eight-month low of 49.8 in May from 49.9 in April as output declined. A reading below 50 indicates contraction while that above 50 indicates expansion in activity.
Stocks on the move
In Tokyo, barring some defensive picks like drug makers, retailers and realty firms, almost all sectors were trading in the red as investors geared up for the prime minister's address.
Some exporters also logged modest gains, but otherwise trading was listless.
Sharp Corp. erased 3.3%, Sony Corp. lost over 2% while Mazda Motor was down around 2%.
Brokerage houses Daiwa Securities and Nomura Holdings lost around 2% and 3% respectively.
In Hong Kong, property developers extended losses. New World Development Corp. erased 2.3%, Sino Land Company lost 1.2% and Poly Property Group slipped 1.4%.
Among resources, Angang Steel gave up around 0.5% while Aluminum Corp. of China dropped 1.5%. Oil firms PetroChina and China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. slipped 0.9% and 1.4% respectively.
In the banking sector, ICBC lost 0.4%, China Construction Bank eased 0.5% and Agricultural Bank erased 0.8% after reports said the country's big banks likely extended fewer loans in the month of May.
In Mumbai, stocks opened lower following overseas weakness. Realty firms were in focus today after the cabinet gave a go-ahead to the Realty Regulation Bill.
DB Realty Ltd. fell 2.2%, Housing Development & Infrastructure Ltd. lost 1.3% while DLF Ltd. eased 0.4%.
Among other top losers, ITC lost 1.6%, HDFC erased 1.4%, Cipla retreated 1.3% and Coal India lost over 1%.
Banks, auto firms and IT players were also on the losers' side.
In Australia, banks made heavy declines. ANZ tumbled 3.6%, Westpac Banking fell 2.2% and NAB dropped 1.8%.
Miners were mixed -- BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto slipped around 0.5% but Fortescue Metals Group gained 2.8%. Gold miner Newcrest Mining plunged 5.2% tracking weakness in gold prices overnight.