Asian markets witnessed choppy trade on Tuesday as concerns surrounding potential US military intervention in Syria weighed on investor sentiment.

The Shanghai Composite was trading 0.10% higher or 2.04 points to 2,098.51.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng was trading 0.58% lower or 127.37 points to 21,877.95.

The Japanese Nikkei finished 0.69% lower or 93.91 points to 13,542.37.

Australia's S&P/ASX finished 0.11% higher or 5.80 points to 5,141.20.

South Korea's Kospi finished 0.11% lower or 2.02 points to 1,885.84.

US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Monday that Syria should be held accountable for the use chemical weapons, suggesting the US could be preparing to wage a war against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

"If war does eventuate, higher fuel prices are going to add a third impact point to emerging markets as their currencies were smashed again overnight," said IG Markets strategist Evan Lucas, referring to the fall in the Indian rupee, the Brazilian real and the South African rand.

"Until markets gain some certainty on the attacks we will likely see short term volatility in equity and commodity markets," said Tim Radford, global analyst at Rivkin Securities.

"At this stage, while governments continue to gather information on the matter, comments from politicians on the attacks should be taken with a grain of salt. It still remains unlikely, given the highly sensitive nature of the political environment in the Middle East, military action will be taken by the US government, particularly if there is no hard evidence the Syrian government was behind the attacks," Radford said.

In China, government data showed that the cumulative profits at major industrial firms rose 11.1% year-on-year during the January-to-July period.

China looks set to hit its full-year growth target of 7.5%. The government's statistics office tried to calm investors and the public who think the Chinese economy is slowing down too rapidly by revealing on Monday that it would expand by 7.5% this year.

Wall Street Down

On Wall Street, indices ended lower on Monday following US Secretary of State John Kerry's comment.

The Dow finished 64.05 points lower at 14,946.46, pulled down by Proctor & Gamble and Microsoft.

The S&P 500 closed 6.72 points lower at 1,656.78 while the Nasdaq ended 0.22 points lower at 3,657.57.

Company Stock Movements

In Tokyo, utility firm Tokyo Electric Power Company rallied 14%. The Japanese government could pledge funds for the clean-up efforts at the polluted Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Japan has a 350bn yen (£2.64bn, €2.27bn , $3.54bn) reserve fund that covers natural disasters and other emergencies.

Sumitomo Metal Mining added 1.7% on news of a better profit outlook at the company.

Retailers Takashimaya and Isetan shed 3% each while Hitachi Construction Machinery lost 1.1%. Automaker Isuzu Motors and rival Toyota Motor were down 0.7% and 0.6% respectively.

Oil and gas major Inpex shed 0.2%. Energy stocks were down after US benchmark crude oil prices pared early gains. News of potential US intervention in Syria had pushed up oil prices earlier.

In Shanghai, Shanghai Jinqiao Export Processing Zone Development and Shanghai International Port Group gained 10% each.

China Shipping Container Lines added 3.4% while Dongfeng Automobile added 1.4%. Automakers Guanghzhou Auto and FAW shed over 2% each.

China Construction Bank shed 0.7% on news that its non-performing loan ratio was below 1% at the end of 30 June.

In Hong Kong, energy major Cnooc shed 0.9%.

In Sydney, surf wear brand Billabong International fell 9.7% after the company reported a massive A$860m ($776m) loss in the year to June. Rising competition, falling demand and a huge debt burden have hit the 40-year old company.

Television network Seven Group dropped 8% after it predicted an up to 40% drop in 2014 earnings before interest and taxes.

Whitehaven Coal lost 2% after it reported an $82.2m full-year loss while oil and gas major Santos shed 0.9%.

Australia's largest travel agency Flight Centre shot up 6.5% after it reported a 23% jump in full-year profit.

In Seoul, Hyundai Motor gained over 1% after wage talks with its labour union resumed on Tuesday.