Asian stocks edged lower as investors worried about a possible military action against the Syrian government by the U.S. forces.
China's Shanghai Composite lost 0.2% and Hong Kong's Hang Seng erased 0.3%. Japan's Nikkei was down 0.1% at 12:49 Tokyo time while Mumbai's Sensex fell 1.1%. Australia's S&P/ASX All Ordinaries was trading flat at the time of writing.
Overnight, Wall Street stocks shed early gains after U.S. secretary of state John Kerry said that was little doubt that Syria used chemical weapons against rebels, and further added that the ones responsible must be held accountable for it. Kerry added the U.S. government was in talks with Congress and allies as to what action should be taken against the Syrian government for the "indiscriminate use of chemical weapons".
Worried about a potential military strike against Syria, investors seemed to be taking a wait and watch approach.
Among currencies, the Turkish lira plunged to a record low against the dollar amid ongoing geopolitical tensions in the region.
The Indian rupee, meanwhile, extended its downslide and tanked past the 65 level against the dollar once again in early trades today. Most of the emerging market currencies have been under tremendous pressure over the last few days as speculations are rife the U.S. central bank would pull back its easy money policies over the short run.
On the other side, Japanese yen gained ground as investors flocked to the relative safety of the currency.
Stocks on the Move
Tokyo-listed stocks pared early losses as the yen halted its climb against the dollar mid-session.
Among top gainers, exporters Sony Corp. soared over 4%, Panasonic Corp. rallied around 3% while Sharp Corp. added 1%.
McDonald's Holdings Co. (Japan) Ltd. enhanced 1.4% after the company appointed Sarah Casanova as the new chief executive officer of the fast-food chain's core unit.
ANA Holdings Inc. said it would acquire a 49% stake in Asian Wings Airways, but shares of the firm were trading flat.
Tokyo Electric Power bounced back after yesterday's slide, surging around 13% after the operator of the Fukushima nuclear plant said it would seek advise of foreign experts on how to deal with the water leakage at the nuclear power plant.
In Hong Kong, resources firms moved lower despite data showing profits at industrial companies gained 11.6% from a year ago in July.
Angang Steel fell 2% while Jiangxi Copper lost 0.8%. Gold miner Zijin Mining Group added over a percent as gold prices continued to tick higher.
Property firms and exporters were also in the red, along with banks.
Financial plays in Mumbai were among the top losers on the 30-share benchmark Sensex index.
HDFC Bank slumped 4.5%, HDFC erased 4.2%, SBI declined 2% while ICICI Bank slipped 1.8%.
Among other losers, auto makers Mahindra & Mahindra, Maruti Suzuki and Tata Motors reversed 2.6%, 2.1% and 1.9% respectively.
Sydney-listed banks, on the other hand, were slightly higher. NAB and Westpac Banking added around 0.5% each while Commonwealth Bank gained 1.4%.
Miners were trading little changed. BHP Billiton Plc. eased 0.1% while Rio Tinto added 0.2%.