Asian shares eased on Wednesday, as concerns about China's slowing economy dampened the optimism generated by a brightening outlook for the U.S. economy that has been pushing equity markets higher since late last year.
But financial spreadbetters predicted major European markets .FTSE .FCHI .GDAXI would open up to 0.7 percent higher, rebounding from the previous session's falls. U.S. stock futures edged up 0.2 percent after Wall Street also lost ground on Tuesday. .EU .L .N
The MSCI Asia Pacific ex-Japan index .MIAPJ0000PUS fell 0.5 percent, led by declines in shares in Hong Kong .HSI and Shanghai .SSEC and resource-reliant Australia .AXJO, which counts China as its single biggest export market.
The pan-Asia index has risen about 12 percent this year and is up about 25 percent from the lows hit in early October, when fears about a euro zone financial meltdown were at their peak.
Japan's Nikkei average .N225 eased 0.5 percent, moving away from an 8-1/2-month high touched on Monday. .T
Some see the drop as an adjustment to an uptrend in place since early October, and a precursor to further gains.
"The market is caught in a tug-of-war between concerns about China's slowdown and expectations for monetary easing to support growth," said Hirokazu Yuihama, senior strategist at Daiwa Capital Markets in Tokyo.
"Asian shares have generally climbed without a major hitch since the October lows, so there is naturally an incentive to book profits, but I see it as a consolidation phase to build fresh long positions."
Commodity-linked currencies such as the Australian dollar steadied after taking a hit on Tuesday on concerns that China's flattening growth in iron ore demand would hurt key exporters of the commodity, while a rise in Chinese retail energy prices stoked fears they would undermine growth.