European stocks

European stocks extended losses in the opening minutes of trade as investors awaited Cypriot parliament's decision on the international bailout package.

The FTSEurofirst 300 index tracking the region's blue-chip stocks dropped 0.1 percent to 1,198.6.

The UK's FTSE 100 fell 0.2 percent to 6,444.7 while Germany's DAX was down 0.4 percent. Spain's IBEX and France's CAC-40 slipped 0.2 and 0.3 percent respectively.

In Italy, the FTSE MIB eased 0.05 percent.

The unprecedented bank deposit levy-mandate in the international bailout package to Cyprus, which rattled global markets in the previous session, is set to dominate sentiments during the day.

All eyes are on the Cypriot government's debate on the levy-mandate, which will culminate in a parliamentary vote in the final session. The vote has been postponed twice.

The international lenders have indicated that Cyprus could exempt small investors from the one-off levy and focus solely on deposits over €100,000 (£86,000, $130,000). But this could raise tensions with countries such as Russia, whose businesses and individuals hold an estimated €30bn in deposits in Cyprus.

Markets are awaiting Spain's sale of 3 and 6-month paper, which will be worth about €4bn during the day, for indications of investor confidence after the renewed eurozone concerns.

Investors are also awaiting the German ZEW economic sentiments data set for release later in the day, which could provide a monetary distraction from the Cyprus concerns. Analysts expect the data to show further improvement, in line with the broader economic pickup.

Most Asian markets had ended higher earlier as investors looked beyond the Cyprus bailout concerns and the yen resumed its weak run against the dollar.

The Nikkei ended 2.03 percent higher to 12468.2 while South Korea's KOSPI was up 0.5 percent to 1978.6. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 slipped nearly 0.6 percent to 4987.4.

China's Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.8 percent to end at 2257.4. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index added 0.3 percent to 22145.7 towards close.

Japanese markets rebounded from the previous day's slump as the yen returned to its low levels against the dollar. The greenback rebounded to top the 95 yen mark during the day, boosting exporter stocks in Tokyo.

Official Chinese data released during the day showed that Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) inflows to the world's second largest economy eased 1.35 percent year-on-year in the first two months of 2013. The data comes after upbeat export figures from the country, which had reinforced optimism that the economy is on track to recovery.

Analysts suggest that foreign interest in China could gain in the coming months as the economy gathers momentum.

Australian market sentiments weakened after the latest minutes from Reserve Bank of Australia, which gave rise to speculation that the central bank may refrain from further rate cuts in the near-future.

"While further reductions may be required, on the information currently to hand it was appropriate to hold rates steady," the central bank noted. RBA had left its benchmark rate at 3 percent at the meeting.