China's commerce ministry said on Tuesday the country's Vice Premier Liu He, U.S. Trade representative Robert Lighthizer and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had a telephonic talk on issues related to a phase one trade agreement.
While markets initially rose on the news, most indexes traded lower at close as lack of concrete detail on the talks spooked investors.
"Market players should stay alert, especially when factoring the unpredictable nature of the trade talks," wrote Lukman Otunuga, Senior Research Analyst at brokerage FXTM.
"If the two largest economies in the world are unable to find a middle ground before the December 15 deadline when U.S. tariffs are set to increase by 15%, trade tensions may intensify."
Singapore shares edged lower, amid diminishing hopes of easing from the central bank after data showed that the city-state's industrial production unexpectedly rose in October and marked its biggest jump in nearly a year.
"We believe the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) will view upward growth momentum as sufficient reason to leave policy on hold at its next review in April 2020," analysts at ING said in a note.
Conglomerates Jardine Matheson Holdings and Jardine Strategic Holdings skidded 1.9% and 1.3%, respectively.
Trade worries continued to hurt risk appetite, with the Philippines index ending 0.8% lower to close at its lowest level in nearly seven weeks.
The benchmark was dragged by blue chips, with heavyweights Ayala Land and Ayala Corp shedding 3% and 4.3%, respectively.
Indonesian equities pulled back from early gains to log a four-day losing streak, closing at their lowest level in nearly seven weeks. Index heavyweight Telekomunikasi Indonesia dropped 2.3%.
Thai stocks slipped 0.3%, with utilities and industrials the biggest losers. Airports of Thailand Pcl lost 1.9%, while BGrimm Power Pcl fell 3.6%.
By Arundhati Dutta