Asian shares drifted lower on Wednesday as a risk-off mood settled on markets, while a frazzled pound awaited its fate ahead of yet another make-or-break parliamentary vote on Brexit.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS eased 0.45 percent in slow trade.
Japan’s Nikkei .N225 led the retreat with a fall of 1.2 percent as data showed domestic machinery orders fell in January at the fastest pace in four months.
Shanghai blue chips .CSI300 slipped 0.5 percent following two days of gains. E-Mini futures for the S&P 500 ESc1 were off 0.2 percent and spread betters pointed to opening losses for the main European bourses.
Risk appetites had soured after British lawmakers crushed Prime Minister Theresa May’s European Union divorce deal, forcing parliament to decide within days whether to back a no-deal Brexit or seek a last-minute delay.
Lawmakers voted against May’s amended Brexit deal by 391 to 242 as her last-minute talks with EU chiefs on Monday to assuage her critics’ concerns ultimately proved fruitless.
Parliament will vote later Wednesday on whether to leave the EU with no deal, and if that fails, a further vote on Thursday will decide whether to extend the Brexit deadline.