Asian stocks traded mixed in the morning as weak eurozone indicators added to the continuing Cyprus bailout concerns, and the yen strengthened after the Bank of Japan governor's first press meet failed to impress markets.
The Nikkei average index slid 1.5 percent or 185.40 points to 12450.3 while South Korea's KOSPI was up 0.07 percent or 1.43 points to 1952.3. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 added 0.4 percent or 18.90 points to 4978.3.
China's Shanghai Composite Index picked up 0.2 percent or 5.47 points to 2329.7. Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.2 percent or 39.46 points to 22186.4.
Cyprus bailout concerns reached a new high after the European Central Bank (ECB) set 25 March as the deadline to come up with the bailout-mandated amount, failing which the lender would cut its emergency liquidity assistance. The Cypriot parliament is set to consider a new plan to raise the funds later in the day, after having rejected the earlier proposal.
Meanwhile, the euro area Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) data indicated that economic conditions remained weak, with manufacturing in the 17-nation region sliding to a three-month low.
"It seems that the downturn [in Europe] could intensify," Matthew Sherwood, head of investment markets research in Sydney at Perpetual Investments, told Bloomberg.
"Its leadership keeps looking at the hole in the hull and wondering why they are waist deep in water, rather than fixing the damage."
Wall Street had ended lower earlier as the mounting eurozone concerns overshadowed improved US economic figures. Data had shown that US existing home sales advanced to a three-year high in February.
Japanese market sentiments remained weak after Bank of Japan's new governor Haruhiko Kuroda's news conference failed to meet expectations. The central bank chief pledged to make all efforts to fight deflation but did not reveal further details on the matter, despite speculation that he would announce aggressive measures.
The developments weakened the dollar against the yen to ¥94.89 early in the day, from the ¥94.94 mark touched in the previous session and well off the ¥96.03 mark reached earlier this week.
Exporters slipped in Tokyo. Nikon Corp was down 3.1 percent while Casio Computer Company slipped 2.9 percent. Olympus Corp eased 2.9 percent.
Resource stocks traded lower in Hong Kong. Shares of PetroChina were down 2.3 percent while Citic Pacific and CNOOC slipped 1 percent and 0.7 percent respectively.
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