HONG KONG - Asian markets mostly edged down Tuesday as fears about the eurozone and Chinese economies overshadowed hopes that central banks were poised to unveil new stimulus measures.
But trade was sluggish with many investors taking to the sidelines as they await a key address by US Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke on Friday to an annual gathering of central bankers in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
Tokyo fell 0.28 per cent, Hong Kong was down 0.09 per cent, while Seoul was off 0.31 per cent, although shares in Samsung Electronics rebounded 1.69 per cent.
Its shares had plunged 7.5 per cent Monday after a US court last week fined the South Korean firm US$1.05 billion (S$1.313 billion) for breaching arch-rival Apple's patents.
Sydney was flat, off 0.01 per cent, as was Shanghai, which gained 0.04 per cent.
There was no clear lead from US markets, which ended mixed, and gains in European stocks had little effect as London, the region's biggest market, had been closed for a public holiday on Monday.
Asian shares have been driven higher in August on expectations of fresh central bank stimulus to boost the global economy but such hopes have been gradually replaced by worries about slowing growth.
"Investors are staying sluggish and balancing global easing expectations and worries over an economic slowdown in Europe and China," Tomoichiro Kubota, senior market analyst at Matsui Securities in Japan, told Dow Jones Newswires.
Investors are looking ahead to Friday's gathering in Jackson Hole for details about whether the Fed may soon introduce new stimulus to boost the world's biggest economy.
They are hoping for hints about the European Central Bank's plans for a new programme to buy up bonds of struggling eurozone countries, and signals China could move to arrest its slowing growth rate with an easing of monetary policy.
But there was only bad news from Europe on Monday, with a a key German business sentiment indicator falling to its lowest level since March 2010.
The Ifo measure fell for the fourth month running as Europe's biggest economy showed signs of being affected more and more by the eurozone crisis.
Nevertheless, European stocks moved higher on hopes the bad data would encourage the ECB to unveil fresh stimulus measures, with Frankfurt up 1.10 per cent and Paris gaining 0.86 per cent.
US stocks ended mixed. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 0.25 per cent, the S&P 500 slipped 0.05 per cent, while a surge in Apple shares on its victory over Samsung helped boost the tech-rich Nasdaq to a gain of 0.11 per cent.
On currency markets, the euro bought US$1.2466 and 97.90 yen (S$1.5614) in Tokyo morning trade, down from US$1.2535 and 98.41 yen in New York late Monday.
The dollar also edged lower to 78.56 yen from 78.74 yen.
Oil slipped, with New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in October falling 14 cents to US$95.33 a barrel and Brent North Sea crude for October delivery shedding 46 cents to US$111.80.
Gold was at US$1,658.98 at 0310 GMT compared to US$1,670.90 on Monday.