Chinese stocks extended their heavy losses on continued worries that Beijing could unveil more measures to restrain prices, while European stocks rose in cautious trade as investors awaited the outcome of Ireland's meeting with European Union and International Monetary Fund officials.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index declined 2% to 23214.46, its sixth loss in seven sessions and its biggest one-day drop since late June.
China's Shanghai Composite shed 1.9% to 2838.86, adding to Tuesday's 4% slide. It closed at its lowest level since Oct. 11.
A weakened yen pushed Japanese exporters higher, and the Nikkei Stock Average edged up 0.1% to 9811.66.
Markets in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and India were closed for public holidays.
Commodity-linked shares were hit across the region as worries about the heavy debt load of some European nations, particularly Ireland, reined in investors' interest in riskier assets and pushed the U.S. dollar higher against major global currencies. Copper, zinc, natural rubber and aluminum futures fell sharply on the Shanghai Futures Exchange.
In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 lost 1.6% to 4624.25, a four-week low. BHP Billiton /zigman2/quotes/208108397/composite BHP +1.43% dropped 2.2% and Rio Tinto /zigman2/quotes/202627887/composite RIO +1.40% sank 3.2%.
Among other materials plays, Mitsubishi Materials /zigman2/quotes/201126350/delayed JP:5711 -1.47% lost 4% in Tokyo and Korea Zinc lost 2.9% in Seoul. Jiangxi Copper tumbled 8.2% in Hong Kong and 2.9% in Shanghai, while PetroChina /zigman2/quotes/204979431/delayed HK:857 -1.44% skidded 3.2% in Hong Kong and 1.9% in Shanghai.
In Europe, pharmaceutical stocks were the star of the show, boosted by GlaxoSmithKline /zigman2/quotes/209463850/composite GSK +0.21% and Actelion. The Stoxx Europe 600 index for the sector closed up 1% at 381.51.
GlaxoSmithKline rose 2.4% in London after a Food and Drug Administration panel recommended that the agency approve its lupus drug, Benlysta. Actelion gained 9.1% in Zurich after the company said it is in regular talks with industry peers, amid speculation the group may be a takeover target.
The Stoxx Europe 600 index ended up 0.5% at 267.31. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 index added 0.2% to 5692.56, France's CAC-40 index closed 0.8% higher at 3792.35 and Germany's DAX rose 0.6% to 6700.07. Ireland's ISEQ index rose 1.5% to close at 2691.89, while Bank of Ireland gained more than 2% in Dublin.