HONG KONG — Asian markets were generally down Wednesday as nervous investors awaited the outcome of a key US Federal Reserve meeting amid low expectations of any new easing measures.
The Asian falls were also spurred by European stock markets sliding into the red on Tuesday as traders fretted about whether the European Central Bank (ECB) would announce decisive monetary policies later this week.
Tokyo stocks fell 0.61 percent, or 53.21 points to 8,641.85, Seoul slipped 0.1 percent, or 2.06 points, to 1,879.93, and Sydney was down 0.15 percent, or 6.4 points, at 4269.2.
Hong Kong rose 0.15 percent percent in the afternoon while Shanghai shares edged up 0.94 percent after British banking giant HSBC said China's manufacturing activity picked up modestly to a three-month high in July.
HSBC said its closely watched purchasing managers' index (PMI), which gauges nationwide manufacturing activity, posted a reading of 49.3 in July compared to 48.2 in the previous month.
Qu Hongbin, HSBC's chief economist for China, attributed what he called a "modest improvement" to the early effects of government measures to boost the economy.
"But this is far from inspiring, as China's growth slowdown has not been reversed meaningfully and downside pressures persist with external markets continuing to deteriorate," he said in statement.
Market sentiment was also down amid little hope of a fresh stimulus announcement by the US central bank as investors wait for the results of the Federal Reserve's two-day monetary policy meeting.