Asian shares rose slightly Wednesday, clawing back earlier losses as markets waited for news of whether a concrete plan to tackle the eurozone's debt crisis will emerge at an EU summit later.
Tokyo was up a notch by the break, Sydney added 0.4 percent, Shanghai gained 0.62 percent, Seoul added 0.11 percent, while Hong Kong was down slightly, off 0.11 percent.
The uncertainty in the European Union has weighed on global commodity and equity markets for months, with Italy now joining Greece in the emergency room.
The cancellation of an EU finance ministers' meeting before Wednesday's summit hiked concerns that the high-level talks will fail to produce a deal to end a crisis that has threatened to plunge the world economy into recession.
"The cacophony of voices, shifting timelines and complexity of the problem lead us to remain cautious on the euro and risky assets until more about the next steps is known," Barclays Capital said in a note.
RBS Morgans principal investment adviser Christopher Macdonald cautioned: "I don't think people should be buying equities before the EU meeting."
The eurozone wants to beef up its 440-billion-euro ($610 billion) rescue fund, the European Financial Stability Facility, to persuade markets it has the means to protect highly indebted nations such as Greece and Italy.
Leaders also want to agree on a huge write-down on bondholders' debt of stricken Greece and make sure banks have enough reserves to withstand losses.
The 27-nation EU will meet first at 1600 GMT Wednesday to decide on the bank recapitalisation followed by a summit of the 17 eurozone leaders to, in theory, finalise their grand bargain.
Sydney got a boost after government data showed inflation had eased to 0.6 percent in the third quarter, down from 0.9 percent in the previous three months and paving the way for a possible interest rate cut.
The Aussie dollar slipped on the news, dropping from 104.32 US cents to 103.72 US cents in afternoon trade.
US stocks slumped Tuesday on indications of a still-weak economy and worries over Europe's debt problems, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average losing 1.74 percent by the close.
The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite shed 2.26 percent while the broader S&P 500 lost 2.00 percent, snapping a three-session winning streak.
Data released Tuesday showed US consumer confidence fell to its lowest level since March 2009, with third-quarter GDP data due Thursday.
"Consumer confidence is now back to levels last seen during the 2008-2009 recession, said Lynn Franco of the Conference Board.
Shares in online retail giant Amazon plunged 12.68 percent in after-hours trading Tuesday after the US-based firm said its third-quarter net profit dived 73 percent from a year earlier.
European shares had also lost ground, with bourses in London, Paris and Frankfurt all slipping by the closing bell Tuesday.
The euro bought $1.3920 and 105.84 yen in Tokyo morning trade, marginally up from $1.3904 and 105.78 yen late Tuesday in New York.
The dollar gained to 76.08 yen after falling to a new post-World War II low of 75.73 yen briefly in New York on Tuesday. That prompted further efforts by officials in Tokyo to talk the Japanese unit lower with intervention threats.
"I think we share this sense of crisis and I hope (the Bank of Japan) will act properly," Finance Minister Jun Azumi told reporters.
His remark came after the Nikkei business daily reported the Japanese central bank would discuss additional monetary easing measures to help blunt the yen's impact on the economy when its policy board convenes Thursday.
New York's main oil contract, light sweet crude for delivery in December, fell 31 cents to $92.86 per barrel, while Brent North Sea crude for December delivery shed 14 cents to $110.78.
By 0445 GMT, gold was up at $1,710.67 an ounce, against $1,662.00 late Tuesday.