The end the most turbulent month of the year so far was approaching and amid ongoing and fierce U.S-China trade tensions investors seemed content to square up some positions.
The effects of the global bond selloff that took U.S. 10-year bond yields to seven-year highs this week were exacerbated by economic growth concerns stemming from trade conflicts and $80-per-barrel oil.
The Australian dollar also dipped, failing to draw support from slightly better-than-expected domestic trade data.
European shares were expected to be subdued too with futures for Eurostoxx 50 STXEc1, Germany’s DAX FDXc1 and London’s FTSE FFIc1 all starting lower.
Most European shares are expected to fall with futures in Germany's DAX .GDAXI FDXc1 and France's CAC .FCHI FCEc1 falling about 0.2 percent.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS was up 1.1 percent, while Japan's Nikkei stock index .N225 closed 0.9 percent higher.
Spreadbetters pointed to a subdued start for European shares with FTSE futures off 0.2 percent. E-Minis for the S&P500 were a shade softer too.
European shares are expected to follow suit, with spread-betters expecting a fall of 0.2 percent in Germany’s DAX and 0.1 percent in Britain’s FTSE and France’s CAC.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS lost another 0.6 percent after touching a two-year trough on Tuesday.
Investors and traders are worried that threats of higher U.S. tariffs and retaliatory measures by others could derail a rare period of synchronized global growth.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS lost 1.0 percent, with shares in South Korea .KS11 and Taiwan .TWII falling over one percent.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS gained 0.6 percent after slumping on Wednesday to its weakest since early April.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan tumbled 1.4 percent, while Japan’s Nikkei average sold off 1.5 percent to a six-week low.
A broad MSCI index of car and car parts companies fell 1.1 percent. Tokyo’s SE TOPIX transport equipment index lost 3 percent.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS dropped 0.3 percent, hitting their weakest in almost three weeks.
Chinese markets struggled even as Beijing boosted liquidity in the banking system. Shanghai blue chips hit an eight-month low before recouping losses.
Spreadbetters expected European stocks to open mixed, with Britain’s FTSE falling 0.35 percent, Germany’s DAX rising 0.02 percent and France’s CAC gaining 0.05 percent.
Spreadbetters expected European stocks to open lower, with Britain’s FTSE falling 0.7 percent, Germany’s DAX losing 0.8 percent and France’s CAC dropping 0.85 percent.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 1.5 percent, snapping five straight days of losses.
The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of peers, was up 0.2 percent.