A rebound in Asian stocks and the euro stalled and gold edged up on Wednesday as investors waited for convincing signs of progress on taming the euro zone debt crisis.
Oil eased after the International Energy Agency revised down its forecast for growth in consumption due to the struggling global economy.
Global markets have been roiled since the end of July by the twin fears of renewed recession in the United States and Europe's protracted debt woes, which have seen bailouts for Greece, Ireland and Portugal and sparked fears of a new banking crisis.
Developments in Europe are sending mixed signals, and this will likely keep investors at bay, said Y.S. Rhoo, a market analyst at Hyundai Securities.
Japan's Nikkei share average <.N225> inched up 0.2 percent, but MSCI's broadest index of Asia Pacific shares outside Japan <.MIAPJ0000PUS> fell 0.3 percent, with South Korean shares <.KS11> losing more than 1 percent.
The MSCI index is now more than 20 percent below its 2011 high reached in April. A decline of 20 percent or more is the rule-of-thumb definition of a bear market.
U.S. stocks rose on Tuesday, with the S&P 500 <.SPX> up 0.9 percent, amid hopes that European leaders would take action soon to ease the two-year-old sovereign debt crisis.
Markets had been spooked in recent days by renewed talk among euro zone policymakers of a default by Greece, prompted by the country's failure to meet the fiscal goals set out in its EU/IMF bailout.
Greek, German and French leaders were due to hold a conference call at 1600 GMT on Wednesday.
The conference call will at least calm nerves ... and may provide 24 hours of reprieve. That's about it, though, said Sean Callow, a senior currency strategist at Westpac.
The euro was steady around $1.3690, having jumped more than a cent in the previous session on news of the conference call.
The single currency tumbled to a seven-month trough of $1.3499 earlier this week.
The dollar index <.DXY> inched up 0.1 percent against a basket of major currencies.
Gold rose 0.3 percent to around $1,837 an ounce, while U.S. crude oil edged down 0.1 percent to around $90.10 a barrel.
(Reporting by Alex Richardson; Editing by Ed Lane)