TOKYO — Stocks in Asia tumbled in early trade Wednesday, after underwhelming stimulus steps announced by the Federal Reserve in the U.S. failed to rally shares there from early losses.
The Nikkei 225 stock average, Japan's benchmark, was down 2.3 percent at 9328.79 in early trade, while South Korea's Kospi slipped 0.8 percent to 1766.49.
Australia's S&P/ASX was off 1.2 percent. Shares in Singapore, Taiwan and New Zealand were also lower.
The losses came after shares on Wall Street bounced back from deep early losses but still failed to end in positive territory.
The Fed, after a one-day policy meeting, announced it will use money from its mortgage securities investments to buy government debt on a small scale. The hope is that this will send long-term rates on debt and mortgages lower, stimulating lending to consumers and business.
The U.S. central bank also issued an assessment of the economy that was darker than a month earlier, saying the pace of the economic recovery will likely be more gradual than previously thought.
The planned action triggered a halfhearted rally in the U.S., and its small scale failed to sway many investors. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 0.5 percent to end at 10,644.25. That marked a fall of 54 – it was down about 100 points before the Fed's announcement.
European markets were also broadly lower ahead of the Fed announcement.
The broader Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 6.73 to 1,121.06, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index closed down 1.2 percent.
In currencies, the dollar fell to 85.36 yen from 85.48 yen late Tuesday, while the euro traded at $1.3101 versus $1.3176.