South Korea's KOSPI closed lower for a third consecutive session, shedding 1.3 percent, weighed down by inflation worries after oil hit a new peak and key U.S. producer prices rose more than expected. But tech stocks managed to pull ahead with Samsung Electronics, Hynix Semiconductor and LG Electronics all finishing higher.
Australian shares ended down 1.4 percent as worries that slowing consumer spending in the U.S. may hurt demand for commodities weighed down on miners such as BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto, while fresh credit worries pressured financial firms such as Macquarie Group.
Hong Kong stocks closed 1.2 percent higher after a shaky start with oil producer CNOOC enjoying a 5.9 percent jump on the back of record oil prices, which helped to reverse losses on the blue-chip index. China COSCO, the country's largest shipping conglomerate, lost 0.7 percent after JP Morgan downgraded the stock to neutral from overweight on Tuesday on valuation and concerns over a potential downturn in the shipping cycle in 2009.
Singapore's Straits Times Index closed 0.2 percent lower. Financial counters such as DBS Group and United Overseas Bank led the declines.
China's Shanghai Composite Index was down 2.9 percent led by financial shares, as concerns lingered about the impact of last week's devastating earthquake on the world's fourth-largest economy. Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the country's biggest
lender, slid. PetroChina, the benchmark index's most heavily weighted stock, edged down, pressured by rising crude oil prices.