Most Asian markets lost ground Tuesday, tracking U.S. equities' weak performance overnight, with some analysts saying traders are turning more cautious after the recent rally.
The Nikkei 225 closed down 116.68 points, or 0.68 percent, at 17,117.07, after wavering between positive and negative territories in the morning. In South Korea, the Kospi gave up early gains to close down 2.30 points, or 0.12 percent, at 1,969.97. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index finished lower by 146.57 points, or 0.72 percent, at 20,288.77.
Chinese markets finished mixed, as the Shanghai composite eked out a gain of 4.75 points, or 0.17 percent, to close at 2,864.25, after spending most of the session in negative territory. The Shenzhen composite slid 16.20 points, or 0.92 percent, to 1,729.07.
The Australian S&P/ASX 200 index closed down 74.03 points, or 1.43 percent, at 5,111.42, weighed by losses in the energy sub-index, which fell 3.55 percent, and the financials sub-index, which was 1.39 percent lower.
Rodrigo Catril, a currency strategist for fixed income, currencies and commodities at the National Australia Bank, said in a morning note Tuesday that while Asia and European equities extended their gains on Monday, U.S. stocks reflected "a more hesitant mood."
"This cautious mode has also been reflected in currencies with the safe haven [Japanese yen] the only (small) outperformer against the [U.S. dollar]," he wrote.
Others were also taking a cautious tone.
Mark Matthews, head of research for Asia at Julius Baer, added in a morning note that while the world economy is essentially unchanged from where it was in mid-February, many asset prices are up by double digits. He warned, "If you weren't bullish a month ago, you probably shouldn't get too bullish now."