Equity markets in Shanghai and Sydney underperformed the region on Wednesday, while other bourses in the region bounced off their intra-day lows after a gauge of China's service sector lifted sentiment.
Overnight, U.S. stocks chalked up a three-session losing streak as investors worried about an eventual hike in U.S. interest rates, while Apple's shares hit their lowest in over six months. The blue-chip shed 0.3 percent, while the and Nasdaq Composite slipped 0.2 percent each.
Shanghai Comp falls 1.6%
China's Shanghai Composite index closed down amid a broad-based selloff, even as data showed activity in China's services sector expanded to its fastest pace in 11 months in July.
The Caixin/Markit Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) rose to 53.8 from June's reading of 51.8, hitting the highest level since August 2014 and marking the 12th straight month of expansion.
Property developers, brokerage houses and banking heavyweights were among the laggards; Shanghai Shimao and Poly Real Estate plunged more than 3 percent each, while Citic Securities and Haitong Securities shaved off 3.4 and 3.3 percent, respectively.
In the previous session, the Shanghai bourse more than doubled gains in late-hour trading to chalk up the bourse's biggest daily gain since July 10, encouraged by news that authorities have stepped up their crackdown on short-selling of shares.
Hang Seng gains 0.3%
Hong Kong's Hang Seng index reversed a negative open to edge up late Wednesday.
The focus was on Standard Chartered, which will unveil first-half results later in the day. Shares of the lender pared losses to finish flat.
Nikkei bounces 0.5%
Japan's index reversed course to edge up, as gains in the construction sector and some heavyweight components helped to offset the sharp plunge in Fast Retailing.
The stock receded 4.7 percent, after posting a second straight month of decline for sales at its Uniqlo clothing outlets in Japan. Same-store sales fell 1.5 percent in July from a year earlier, following an 11.7 percent slide in June.
Blue chip Toyota Motor sagged 2.4 percent despite topping market estimates to deliver the company's third straight year of record first-quarter net profit late Tuesday.
Fortunately, Softbank and Fanuc tacked on 2.7 and 4.1 percent, respectively, while construction firms such as Kajima and Shimizu surged 6.8 and 4.2 percent, respectively, on the back of upbeat earnings.
ASX sags 0.4%
Australia's index headed south amid losses in the financial and energy sectors.
Despite energy prices recovering in early Asian trade, oil-related counters remained downbeat. Woodside Petroleum reversed a brief positive start to slip 0.4 percent, while Santos and Oil Search eased 1 and 2.4 percent, respectively.
Bucking the downtrend, Fortescue Metals surged 6.2 percent on news that China's state-owned companies have approached the iron ore producer to buy a stake in its infrastructure assets.
South Korea's Kospi index was directionless on Wednesday, as blue chips came under pressure.
Southeast Asia up
Philippine shares lead gains in this part of the region, rising 0.9 percent, while Thailand's SET index held on to gains of 0.4 percent after the Bank of Thailand left its benchmark one-day repurchase rate unchanged at 1.50 percent.
Indonesia's Jakarta Composite more than doubled gains to 1.2 percent after the country's second-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) beat expectations, albeit modestly. The Southeast Asian economy expanded 4.67 percent on-year in the April-June period, slightly weaker than the 4.7 percent in the first three months of the year but topping expectations for growth of 4.61 percent.
Singapore's Straits Times index hovered near the previous day's close, with shares of property developer CapitaLand shedding 0.3 percent despite delivering a 5.8 percent rise in second-quarter profit.
In the currency space, the Singapore dollar lost 0.3 percent of its value against the greenback and was last seen at 1.3850, its lowest level since March 20.