Asian markets opened lower Tuesday, tracking a negative lead from Wall Street, after mixed signals from Federal Reserve officials left investors guessing about the central bank's next policy move.
Most indexes in the region, however, managed to pare some of the early losses as the day's trading came to an end; but still ended in the red.
Among the Asian bourses, the Nikkei finished 0.1% down as trading resumed after a public holiday on Monday. The Shanghai Composite retreated 0.6% and the Hang Seng erased 0.8%. Mumbai's Sensex slightly higher, up 0.1% while Sydney's S&P/ASX All Ordinaries eased 0.3%.
U.S. equities finished Monday's session in the red as markets stayed glued to speeches by Fed officials, which sent conflicting signals about the central bank's tapering plans.
While New York Fed president William Dudley said that the U.S. economy was not strong enough yet to support tapering the quantitative easing programs, Atlanta Fed chief Dennis Lockhart said the unemployment rate does not fully capture problems in the labour market, and economic policies need to be such that they revive dynamism in the labor market.
Those remarks left investors confused about the Fed's future policy stance, and they opted to pull out of equities, and move to safer havens like the Japanese yen. The yen grew stronger against the U.S. dollar and was trading around 98.76 per dollar at the time of writing.
Stocks on the Move
Tokyo-listed exporters were under pressure on account of the stronger yen. Sony Corp. erased 1.6% while Canon Inc. was down over 2%.
Some tech players, however, were on the upside after Apple Inc. soared 5% overnight as the company sold a record 9 million iphones over the weekend.
Electronics equipment maker Murata Manufacturing gained 1.5% while Japan Aviation Electronics bounced 3.4%.
In Hong Kong, property developers dug deeper while resources added to the losses.
China Resources Land Ltd. plunged 3.4%, Sun Hung Kai Properties fell around 1.5% and New World Development Corp. lost 1.3%.
Shanghai-listed Gemdale Corp. retreated 2.7% while Poly Real Estate Group tumbled 3%.
Among metal players, Angang Steel, Jiangxi Copper and Aluminum Corp. of China all were off by around 1% each.
In Mumbai, stocks edged up, reversing sharp losses earlier in the session. Among the gainers, Bajaj Auto advanced 2.7%, Tata Power added 2.5%, L&T enhanced 1.8%.
Some lenders also ticked up after string of losses in the previous sessions. ICICI Bank edged up 0.2% while HDFC gained 1.7%.
Among Sydney-listed financials, NAB was down 0.6% while Westpac erased 0.2%. ANZ finished down 0.3%.
Miners were listless too -- BHP Billiton lost 0.6% and Rio Tinto gave up 0.8%.