World shares took a step back as signals that China has put broader stimulus on hold offset positive results from Credit Suisse, which kicked off the earnings season for European investment banks.
European shares followed Asia lower, pulling back from eight-month highs, with the pan-regional STOXX 600 index slipping 0.4 per cent.
Germany’s DAX was flat after a business survey showed German business morale deteriorated in April.
“The big picture is the tussle between Asia, which has pulled back, and America, where the markets made new highs, so Europe is probably going to be a bit torn between the two,” said Andrew Milligan, head of global strategy at Aberdeen Standard Investments.
“The positive for Europe is Credit Suisse’s earnings, which could reignite upbeat sentiment and show that some financials are doing well despite weak European economic sentiment and the problems from very low interest rates,” he added.
Credit Suisse’s shares rose 3.9 per cent after the bank posted an unexpected rise in earnings and said it was cautiously optimistic about the second quarter following a challenging start to the year.
It posted a net profit of 749 million Swiss francs ($US734 million) for the first quarter of 2019 as larger-than-expected wealth management gains offset investment banking declines.
Results from UBS Group AG and Barclays follow on Thursday and Deutsche Bank on Friday.
In Asia, the biggest regional loser was South Korea’s KOSPI, which fell 0.9 per cent, with Samsung Electronics down 1.0 per cent.
Investors shrugged off the government’s proposed supplementary budget aimed in part at supporting exports from the country and focused instead on a warning from chipmaker Texas Instruments, which said it expects a slowdown in demand for microchips to last a few more quarters.
Chinese equities flitted between gains and losses as investors debated whether Beijing would slow its pace of policy easing following stronger-than-expected first-quarter economic growth.
The MSCI world equity index, which tracks shares in 47 countries, edged down 0.1 per cent in early European trade.
Sri Lanka’s main stock index traded at its lowest since December 2012 following the deadly Easter Sunday attacks that killed more than 350 people.
Analysts have said the country’s economy might need IMF assistance to overcome the devastation from the incident.
The Turkish lira hit its weakest intraday level against the US dollar since mid-October as investors worried about risks generated by challenges to Istanbul election results and strains in relations with the United States.
Market attention is also focused on the Turkish central bank’s rate-setting meeting on Thursday, when it is expected to keep its policy rate unchanged at 24 per cent.
The US dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six major rivals, was flat at 97.644, near a 22-month high, following strong US housing data.
After jumping to 2019 highs earlier this week, oil prices eased on Wednesday on signs that global markets remain adequately supplied.
Brent traded down 0.34 per cent at $US74.26 per barrel, while US crude dipped 0.39 to $US66.04 a barrel.
Gold prices dipped 0.1 per cent to $US1,270.60 per ounce, hovering around the four-month low touched in the previous session.