Markets in Asia finished mixed on Wednesday, as traders remained in a wait-and-see mode ahead of Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen's speech at Jackson Hole on Friday.
Analysts at Singapore's OCBC Bank said in a research note that pinning down market sentiment was challenging in the current environment.
"Given the lack of major economic data out of the U.S., the sideways movement may still dominate [equity markets], especially with some anticipation that Janet Yellen's speech on Friday at the Jackson Hole symposium may just offer us some clues about the Fed's next steps," the OCBC analysts said.
On the energy front, oil prices remained volatile. On Wednesday during Asian hours, prices retreated with U.S. crude futures down 1.5 percent at $47.38 a barrel, after climbing 1.5 percent on Tuesday. Global benchmark Brent slipped 1.24 percent to $49.34, after gaining 1.6 percent overnight.
Oil's gains on Tuesday followed a Reuters report that said Iran was sending positive signals that it may support joint action to prop up the oil market.
Iran, which is OPEC's third-largest producer, has boosted production output since it returned to the international market this year when Western sanctions were lifted.
But Tuesday gains in oil prices were later pared when data from the American Petroleum Institute showed that U.S. crude inventories rose by 4.5 million barrels in the previous week, compared with analysts' expectations for a drawdown of 500,000 barrels, Reuters reported.