Asian share markets struggled to hold firmer ground on Tuesday but won some respite from recent losses, while the euro rose tentatively as investors took a break from selling it off over fiscal concerns in the euro zone.
The MSCI index of Asian shares outside Japan <.MIAPJ0000PUS> slipped 0.2 percent after dipping to a five-month low, although IT stocks gained, and shares in Shanghai and Seoul turned higher while S&P futures were flat.
Analysts said confidence was still flimsy, however, with worries about fiscal problems in Greece, Spain and Portugal likely to limit the scope of a rebound, and financial shares trailed other sectors after banks led financials lower on Wall Street.
European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet was leaving a central bankers' meeting in Sydney early to attend a European Union summit on the economy.
Shares in Seoul rose 0.4 percent <.KS11>, with the KOSPI bouncing from a two-month low to above 1,550 points helped by Kumho Asiana Group shares which climbed after creditors pledged to support South Korea's cash-starved No.9 conglomerate.
Shares are making a modest rebound as the main index had declined to around the mid-1,500 points, a psychologically significant and 200-day moving average level, said Juhn Jong-kyu, a market analyst at Samsung Securities.
But sentiment is still weak amid deepening concerns about southern European nations' sovereign rating risks.
Shanghai <.SSEC> lost early gains to rise 0.2 percent while Hong Kong's Hang Seng index <.HSI> fell 0.3 percent after a testing higher. It has shed more than 2 percent so far this month.
Japan's Nikkei average <.N225> lost 0.4 percent and hit its lowest in two months after breaking down through 10,000 points on Monday, with shares of exporters down as the euro zone's problems gnawed at investor confidence.
But beaten-down Toyota Motor <7203.T> shares climbed on short-covering, while the firm prepared for a global recall of its new Prius model, and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group <8316.T> rose after posting its biggest profit in seven quarters. <.T>
Australian stocks also trailed, shedding 0.8 percent <.AXJO>, after a lukewarm trading update from top investment bank Macquarie Group
Macquarie was the market's biggest loser, sliding 6 percent after its second-half profit forecast fell short of market estimates and it warned equity capital markets and credit business were not as strong as they were in the first half.
On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> fell 1 percent and ended below 10,000 for the first time since November. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> shed 0.9 percent and the Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> dropped 0.7 percent.
In the currency markets, the euro inched up but remained within sight of last week's 8- month low of $1.3585 as investors awaited a special European Union summit on the economy on Thursday, with eyes on what EU policymakers will say about fiscal problems in the region.
Greek civil servants were threatening to stage strikes in protest at government austerity measures, highlighting the challenges faced by governments in Athens, Lisbon and Madrid to push through budget cuts and restore confidence in their economies.
Gold prices steadied above $1,060 per ounce while oil sank below $72 a barrel, after rising nearly 1 percent the day before, weighed down by an uncertain demand outlook.
(Editing by Jan Dahinten)