Mainland China indexes rose, however, after a report in the Hong Kong newspaper South China Morning Post reported that a deputy chairman of the Banking Regulatory Commission, Wang Zhaoxing, had said risks from soaring debt had been contained.
The Shanghai Composite index added 0.9 percent to 2,988.47, while Japan's Nikkei 225 index lost 0.4 percent to 21,450.83. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index fell 0.4 percent to 28,838.10. Australia's S&P ASX 200 lost 1.1 percent to 6,117.80 as falling prices for oil and other commodities hit energy companies.
Overnight, stocks closed modestly higher after shedding most of their gains from an early rally spurred by the Trump administration's decision to hold off on a March 2 increase in punitive duties on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports.
Investors welcomed the move, which averted an escalation in the damaging trade war between the world's two largest economies. The fight is over U.S. complaints that Beijing steals technology or pressures companies to hand it over.
But many questions remain about the prospects for a deal that would unwind the tariffs already slapped by both sides on billions of dollars of each other's goods. Trump's conflicting comments on the status of the talks have added to the uncertainty, said Jingyi Pan of IG.
"As it is, we continue to view the trade matter through an opaque screen and make assumptions from the shadows of President Donald Trump," Pan said in a commentary. The S&P 500 index added 0.1 percent to 2,796.11. The Dow Jones Industrial average gained 0.2 percent to 26,091.95, while the Nasdaq composite rose 0.4 percent, to 7,554.46. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies dropped 0.1 percent to 1,588.81.
Elsewhere in Asia, South Korea's Kospi lost 0.3 percent and India's Sensex fell 1 percent amid mounting tensions with Pakistan. Shares were lower in Southeast Asia. Pakistan's military spokesman tweeted that Indian aircraft crossed into Pakistan and then "released payload in haste," but said there were no casualties. The Indian side had no immediate comment.
ENERGY: U.S. crude oil gave up 32 cents to $55.16 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It lost 3.1 percent to settle at $55.48 a barrel in New York after Trump criticized rising oil prices in an early morning tweet. Brent crude dropped 20 cents to $64.56 per barrel.
CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 110.83 yen from 111.04 yen on Monday. The euro strengthened to $1.1361 from $1.1356.