Asian shares retreated in choppy trade on Tuesday, led by Chinese stocks, whose early rebound fizzled out as investors remained unconvinced by Beijing's moves to restore market confidence following a disastrous start to the new year.
Prospects were brighter for European shares, however, as financial spreadbetters predicted Britain's FTSE 100 .FTSE, Germany's DAX .GDAXI and France's CAC 40 .FCHI will all open about 1 percent higher.
E-Mini futures for the U.S. S&P 500 ESc1 also hinted at stabilization with a rise of 0.2 percent.
After a 7 percent plunge in Chinese stocks on Monday, the Shanghai Composite index .SSEC swung between positive and negative territory before closing down 0.3 percent.
The CSI300 index .CSI300 of the largest listed companies in Shanghai and Shenzhen ended the day up 0.3 percent.
Still, the volatility weighed on the rest of the region, with MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS edging down 0.3 percent after a brief stint in positive territory.
Japan's Nikkei .N225 also gave up tentative earlier gains to end the day down 0.4 percent. Australian shares closed 1.6 percent lower.
An uneasy peace settled over markets after the People's Bank of China injected a generous slug of liquidity into domestic markets to keep borrowing costs down, but that didn't last long.
Analysts said 'circuit-breakers' had exacerbated selling on China's share markets on Monday, and many investors were opting to make pre-emptive sales rather than be caught out by any sudden downward turn.
"Many of China’s newly introduced 'circuit-breakers' look to have only compounded panic selling yesterday as investors rushed to get their sell order out the door before they got caught in a limit-down," Angus Nicholson, market analyst at IG in Melbourne, wrote in a note.
"This is no doubt present in Chinese traders’ minds today, with many prepared to shoot off a ton of sell orders at the drop of a hat."
The central bank also set the value of its yuan currency a little firmer than many had expected, countering concerns China was seeking an aggressive devaluation to aid exports.
China's securities regulator said it was studying rules to regulate share sales by major holders and senior executives in listed companies.
That might indirectly address concerns that the imminent end of a 6-month lockup on share sales by major institutional investors, or sale next Monday, would result in a massive institutional evacuation from stocks.
Yet the underlying problems had not gone away.
Surveys of manufacturers across the globe out on Monday had found activity anemic at best, with China and the United states both surprising on the downside.
That was one reason both the S&P 500 .SPX and the Nasdaq .IXIC suffered their worst starts to a year since 2001. [.N]
"The price action reminds investors that the world is more connected than ever; volatility is likely here to stay, and liquidity may suffer if investor uncertainty worsens," analysts at Citi said in a note.
"Global growth and geopolitical stability remain the main sources of concern."
Policymakers seemed to share the general sense of unease.
A South Korean finance ministry official on Tuesday said the government will take action to stabilize markets if needed.
Sweden on Monday gave its central bank chief formal powers to act immediately to weaken the crown and help push up inflation, a radical step among developed world institutions.
The European Central Bank was under pressure to do yet more after German inflation proved surprisingly weak in December, pushing down bond yields and slugging the euro.
The common currency held steady around $1.0831 EUR= on Tuesday, having touched a one-month low around $1.0780. Against ,
The dollar held steady, at 98.831 against a basket of currencies .DXY and at 119.41 against the yen JPY=.
Oil prices edged up on Tuesday as investors pondered the long run implications of the rift between Saudi Arabia and Iran.
Brent LCOc1 was quoted 0.3 percent firmer at $37.32 a barrel, while U.S. crude added 0.4 percent to $37.90.