On Wall Street, futures for the benchmark Standard & Poor's 500 index and the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up 0.1%. U.S. shares retreated overnight, led by a tech sell-off, as investors weighed mixed earnings from McDonald's, Procter & Gamble and other big companies. That blunted investor optimism that had been fed by hopes for progress in settling a damaging U.S.-Chinese tariff war.
The president of the European Council, Donald Tusk, said he would recommend the other 27 nations in the trade bloc grant Britain's request for an extension to its Oct. 31 deadline to withdraw. Britain wants a three-month delay until the end of January 2020. Parliament passed a law forcing Prime Minister Boris Johnson to seek the postponement.
"Alongside Brexit, the relatively mixed set of earnings out of the U.S. overnight provides poor leads for Asia markets," Jingyi Pan of IG said in a report. More results from Boeing, Caterpillar and other industrial names due Wednesday "could cap the gains for the S&P 500 index," said Pan.
In Asia, the Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.4% to 2,941.62 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 0.8% to 26,566.73. Tokyo's Nikkei 225 added 0.3% to 22,625.38. Seoul's Kospi declined 0.4% to 2,080.62 and Sydney's S&P-ASX 200 was unchanged at 6,673.10. India's Sensex rose 0.2% to 39,058.83.
On Tuesday, the S&P 500 fell 0.4% and the Dow lost 0.2%. The Nasdaq, heavily weighted with technology stocks, fell 0.7%. Investors have been shifting their focus to corporate earnings reports as they wait for developments in U.S.-Chinese trade negotiations. Investors were optimistic after President Donald Trump agreed to postpone a planned tariff hike following the latest talks in Washington. That helped the S&P 500 to turn in gains for the past two weeks.
Analysts came into this latest earnings season expecting profits to decline overall for companies in the S&P 500. But with about 15% of companies in the index reporting so far, results have been unexpectedly positive.
Earnings growth fell slightly in the first and second quarters, according to data from FactSet, which was better than Wall Street's expectation at the start of those reporting seasons. Microsoft dropped 1.5% and Netflix fell 4.1%. Facebook lost 3.9% following news that a state-level antitrust investigation into the social networking giant now has the backing of a bipartisan group of 47 attorneys general.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude lost 52 cents to $53.95 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract gained $1.97 on Tuesday to close at $54.48. Brent crude, used to price international oils, retreated 46 cents to $59.24 per barrel in London. It rose $1.74 the previous session to $59.70.
CURRENCY: The dollar declined to 108.44 yen from Tuesday's 108.46 yen. The euro retreated to $1.1115 from $1.1127.