US stimulus fears pull down Asian markets on 20 August
An investor looks at an electronic board showing stock information at a brokerage house in Shenyang, Liaoning province, China.

Asian markets opened lower on Tuesday, and followed a downbeat handover from Wall Street, as concerns surrounding the future pace of US stimulus continued to weigh on investor sentiment.

The Shanghai Composite was trading 0.54% lower or 11.36 points to 2,074.24.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng was trading 1.69% lower or 380.54 points to 22,083.16.

The Japanese Nikkei finished 2.63% lower or 361.75 points to 13,396.38.

Australia's S&P/ASX finished 0.67% lower or 34.00 points to 5,078.20.

South Korea's Kospi finished 1.55% lower or 29.79 points to 1,887.85 points.

Minutes from the US Federal Reserve's July policy meeting will be released on Wednesday. They could provide hints about the timing of the planned reduction of monetary stimulus. The Fed's $85bn a month bond-buying program has stimulated the US economy and the markets the world over for a while now.

The Fed's FOMC is due to meet on 17 September, 29 October and 17 December. The September and December meetings will be followed by a news conference led by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke.

"The FOMC meeting in September could be the catalyst behind a possible resumption of the long-term uptrend/bull market or the start of a new longer-term downtrend," said Tim Radford, global analyst at Rivkin.

Wall Street Down

On Wall Street, indices declined for a fourth consecutive session on 19 August.

The Dow finished 70.73 points lower at 15,010.74, closing near the psychologically-important 15,000 level.

The S&P 500 closed 9.77 points lower at 1,646.06, while the Nasdaq ended 13.69 points lower at 3,589.09.

Company Stock Movements

In Tokyo, oil and gas explorer Inpex fell 3.3% while Pacific Metals fell 1.6%. Automaker Suzuki Motor dropped 5.1% while rival Honda Motor was down 1.5%.

Nippon Paper Industries inched up 0.3% on news that the firm would begin retail sales of electricity in the next financial year.

In Shanghai, Everbright Securities tanked 10%. Trading in the stock resumed for the first time since 16 August, when a technological glitch fuelled a rally in Chinese stocks. Everbright lost 194 million yuan ($31.7m) from that trading error.

Jiangxi Copper shed 0.6% while PetroChina shed 0.4%.

Daqin Railway gained 4%, while China Railway Construction and China Railway added 2% each, boosted by Beijing's pledge to invest more in the sector

In Hong Kong, Jiangxi Copper lost 1.4% while PetroChina fell 1.7%

In Sydney, mining contractor Macmahon Holdings tanked over 17% after it reported a higher-than-expected annual net loss.

Coca-Cola Amatil fell 5.5% after its first-half profit missed expectations. QBE Insurance Group fell 5.5% after it reported a lower profit and lowered its revenue forecast.

Gold miner Newcrest Mining lost 1.8%, while Anglo-Australian miner BHP Billiton was down 1.2%.

National Australia Bank gained 1% as a drop in non-performing loans pushed up its quarterly profit.

In Seoul, index heavyweight Samsung Electronics lost 1.3%, LG Electronics fell 3% while Korea Zinc was down 1.4%.

Automaker Kia Motors and part-owner Hyundai Motor were down 2% each. Hyundai workers will go on a strike this week as wage talks with the management failed.