Trade, tech stocks, currencies and RBA in focus
Japan's Nikkei 225 declined 0.45 percent, or 96.29 points, to close at 21,292.29, but was off its session lows. The broader Topix slipped 0.29 percent, with oil and gas the worst-performing sector index.
Tech shares traded lower as semiconductor-related plays underperformed the broader market, with Tokyo Electron sliding 1.31 percent. Renesas Electron tumbled 9.7 percent on news that major shareholder Innovation Network Corp of Japan would reduce its stake in the company.
Over in South Korea, the Kospi closed off by 0.07 percent at 2,442.43 as technology stocks weighed on the broader index, taking cues from the declines on Wall Street. Losses were also seen in energy-related stocks and brokerages, although automakers and cosmetics names advanced.
|ASX 200||S&P/ASX 200||5751.90||---||UNCH||0%|
|CNBC 100||CNBC 100 ASIA IDX||8515.11||-35.74||-0.42%|
On the mainland, the Shanghai composite lost 0.85 percent to end at 3,136.44 and the Shenzhen composite eased 0.78 percent to finish at 1,842.23.
Down Under, the S&P/ASX 200 slipped 0.13 percent to close at 5,751.90. Losses in industrials were offset by gains in the energy and materials subindexes. Gold producers also climbed.
The softer investor sentiment in Asia came after major U.S. stock indexes moved into correction territory in the overnight session.
Tech, trade worries weigh
Shares of U.S. tech giants, including Facebook, Netflix and Google parent Alphabet, all declined overnight in the first trading session of the month. E-commerce giant Amazon declined after U.S. President Donald Trump criticized the company in a series of tweets.
Investors also digested China's announcement that it was imposing tariffs on 128 kinds of U.S. products, beginning Monday, in response to U.S. duties on steel and aluminum imports unveiled last month. Beijing said in March that those products had an import value of $3 billion in 2017.
Analysts saw the move as largely measured, although there was concern that retaliation from U.S. trading partners would cause a potential trade war — a negative for global economic growth and corporate profits.
"The question about trade policy is whether it affects second-quarter, third-quarter, fourth-quarter [earnings]. The market really is now discounting earnings growth potential based on potential trade wars," James Norman, head of equity strategy at QS Investors, told CNBC's "Squawk Box."
Others were hopeful that an all-out trade war would ultimately be avoided.
"A tariff 'tit-for-tat' is a lose-lose situation. So it's likely that after this war of nerves, the world's two largest economies will find a middle ground," Hussein Sayed, chief market strategist at Forextime, said in a note.
In corporate news, Australian oil and gas company Santos announced Tuesday that it had received a $10.4 billion takeover proposal from Harbour Energy, Reuters said. Santos stock closed up 16.17 percent.
Elsewhere, South Korea's SK Innovation finished the day down 1.4 percent. Reuters reported that the company said on Monday it intended to sell shares in its SK Lubricants unit as part of a planned initial public offering.
Meanwhile, shares of Kumho Tire surged 29.88 percent after news that the plan to sell a majority stake in the company to Qingdao Doublestar was approved by union workers on Monday.
The dollar index, which tracks the U.S. currency against six peers, stood at 89.932 by 2:45 p.m. HK/SIN, compared to levels around the 90 handle seen in the last session.
Against the yen, the dollar drifted higher but remained a touch below the 106 level. The dollar last traded at 105.99 after slipping against the safe-haven Japanese currency for the third straight session on Monday.
On the economic front, the Reserve Bank of Australia kept the cash rate steady at 1.5 percent on Tuesday, as was widely expected by markets.
— CNBC's Fred Imbert contributed to this report.
tech in focus, Air France
Technology stocks were among the worst performers, continuing the bearish sentiment seen on Wall Street. Market players fear that there will be new and tougher rules on the sector after a data scandal involving Facebook and comments from President Donald Trump on Amazon's impact on traditional retailers. Furthermore, Apple is reportedly looking at making its own chips for Mac computers which hit the stocks of European chipmakers. Austria Microsystems, an Apple supplier, saw shares over 2 percent lower.
Financial services was also among the worst-performing sectors. According to Reuters, China's banking regulator has started inspecting loans to large clients.
Looking at individual stocks, Sodexo dropped 4.5 percent. The firm saw its rating downgraded by several brokers after the company reported lower expectations for 2018. GKN also fell 3.6 percent after Melrose confirmed a $11 billion takeover of the British company.
What's most likely to derail the market?
In corporate news, Air France is expected to operate about 75 percent of its flights as its workers go on strike Tuesday. The strike will also affect the rail network. Air France shares were more than 4 percent lower.
Meanwhile, 21st Century Fox has announced new proposals to address concerns over media plurality in the U.K., where it made a bid to buy 61 percent of Sky. The British broadcaster was 2 percent higher.
In terms of data, the euro zone's IHS Markit manufacturing numbers fell to an 8-month low in March to 56.6, according to new data. However, the figure stood well above the 50 line, which separates growth from contraction.
Dow closes more than 350 points higher as tech cuts Monday's losses
The Dow Jones industrial average closed 389.17 points higher at 24,033.36 with Nike as the best-performing stock in the index. The S&P 500 gained 1.3 percent to close at 2,614.45, with tech rising 1 percent and energy leading. The Nasdaq composite advanced 1 percent to 6,941.28.
"So far, this is a reaction to an oversold condition," said Bruce Bittles, chief investment strategist at Baird. "What we're looking for now is an upside volume explosion" of nine stocks rising for every declining stock to confirm a new upward trend is starting out. "Unless we get that, all rallies are suspect."
Netflix shares rose 1.2 percent while Amazon gained 1.5 percent in volatile trading, while Facebook advanced 0.5 percent.
The major averages briefly hit session lows as tech stocks hit their lows of the day. Amazon traded lower momentarily after President Donald Trump bashed the company again on Twitter.
"Our 'Tweeter-in-Chief' attacked Amazon again and that took the FANG stocks lower," said Dave Lutz, head of ETF trading at JonesTrading about the slip earlier in the session.
Amazon surged to session highs late in the session after Bloomberg reported, citing sources, that the White House had no plans to take action against the company. The major averages also hit their highs of the day after the news.
Over the weekend Trump tweeted that e-commerce giant Amazon was scamming the U.S. Postal Service, and that the service was losing "billions of dollars" because it delivered packages.
On Monday, shares of Amazon sank more than 5 percent, while other technology stocks such as Facebook, Alphabet and Netflix, also posted sharp declines. In March, shares of Facebook came under severe pressure following concerns on how the social media giant handles the data of people who use the platform.
Tech has been the best-performing sector in the S&P 500 sector over the past 12 months, rising 23 percent through Monday's close. But the sector has been under pressure recently because of growing concerns the space could be hit with regulation.
Investors "have been reassessing their stance on the sector," said Andrea Cicione, head of macro strategy at TS Lombard. "There are ever louder calls for tighter regulation, which would likely affect the advertising revenues of the social network company and other internet giants such as Google."
Concerns surrounding global trade also continued to rumble on. China recently announced that it would be implementing new tariffs on 128 U.S. products, including fruit and meat, in response to the U.S.' own set of levies on steel and aluminum.