TOKYO - Shares were mixed Wednesday, as weak data from China sapped the upward momentum from an overnight rally on a flurry of deals in the pharmaceutical sector.
In Europe, the FTSE 100 index of leading British shares rose 0.04 percent to 6,684.47, while Germany's DAX was 0.02 percent lower at 9,598.73 and France's CAC-40 fell 0.3 percent to 4,470.28.
Wall Street looked set for a sluggish start, with Dow Jones futures up 0.04 percent and S&P futures almost flat.
A preliminary survey of Chinese manufacturers by HSBC showed slight improvements in prices and demand, but contractions in new export orders and employment in April. The results were expected, but helped pull Hong Kong's Hang Seng index down 0.8 percent to 22,550.95. Shares in mainland China also fell.
But Japan's Nikkei 225 index gained 1.1 percent to 14,546.27 as export manufacturers' shares advanced on the relative weakness of the yen.
Sentiment was also buoyed by a solid start for Seibu Holdings Inc., whose shares rose 10.6 percent from their initial public offering price in the company's relisting on the Tokyo Stock Exchange.
Elsewhere in Asia, Korea's Kospi fell 0.2 percent to 2,000.37. Shares rose in Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia and Thailand but lost ground in Indonesia, Taiwan and Singapore.
In currency markets, the mood was fairly flat with the euro steady at $1.3716, compared with 1.3807 late Tuesday. The dollar was trading at 102.51 yen, compared with 102.62 yen late Tuesday.
Crude oil for May delivery fell 14 cents to $101.61 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
The contract closed at $101.75 on Tuesday, down $1.90 from its previous close of $103.65.