Most Asian stock markets were trading in the red, including China's Shanghai Composite Index, which was down 1.38% at 2,857.48, on Tuesday (8 March) at 5.23am GMT. This was attributed to investors booking profits ahead of the meetings of the European Central Bank (ECB) and the US Federal Reserve.

Kay Van-Petersen, global macro strategist at Saxo Bank in Singapore, said: "We have seen a big move in markets in a very short period of time and investors are calling time ahead of the ECB and the Fed meetings in the coming days."

While it is widely expected that the ECB will ease interest rates at its policy meeting scheduled on 10 March, the quantum of easing is uncertain.

Adding to the uncertainty is the negative China February exports data, released on 8 March. It revealed that exports from the world's second largest economy fell 25.4% in the month when compared to a year earlier, while imports too fell by 13.8%.

Indices in the rest of Asia traded as follows on 8 March at 5.35am GMT:

Hong KongHang Seng Index19,991.82Down0.83%
JapanNikkei 22516,822.35Down0.53%
South KoreaKOSPI1,944.58Down0.68%
IndiaCNX Nifty7,508.10Up0.30%
AustraliaS&P/ASX 2005,108.00Down0.68%

Meanwhile, overnight, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 17,073.95, up 0.40%, while the FTSE 100 closed lower by 0.27% at 6,182.40 on 7 March.

Among commodities, WTI crude oil was trading 1.13% lower at $37.47 (£26.30, €34) a barrel, while Brent was down 1.25% at $40.33 a barrel on 8 March at 5.42am GMT. This follows iron ore prices increasing by 19% and Brent crude crossing $40 a barrel on 7 March following comments from Lou Jiwei, the finance minister of China. He had said that Beijing would increase its debt-to-GDP ratio to support achieving a medium-to-high rate of growth.