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Rex Tillerson has arrived in Moscow, so get ready for a lot of strained smiles – or, perhaps more likely, determined scowls.

America’s top diplomat touched down on Tuesday evening amid mounting tensions between the Kremlin and White House, with Vladimir Putin warning Washington it was being duped into military attacks against the Syrian regime.

Mr Putin’s allegations that recent chemical attacks in northwestern Syria were “provocations” were made just hours before Rex Tillerson landed in the Russian capital for his inaugural visit as US secretary of state, where he warned Moscow that its ally Bashar al-Assad’s reign in Syria was “coming to an end”.

On Wall Street, geopolitical worries cast a broad if ill-defined shadow over markets, with the CBOE Vix volatility index – a proxy for stock market stress – hitting its highest level since November. US Treasuries, gold and the yen rose sharply as Brent crude climbed higher for a seventh straight day.

In Asia Pacific equities, futures tip the S&P/ASX to rise 0.3 per cent when trading begins in Sydney, while Tokyo’s Topix is set to drop 0.4 per cent at the open and in Hong Kong the Hang Seng is expected to open down by the same amount.

Corporate earnings reports out today include Prada, Sinolink Securities, Lawson, Aeon, Life, Saizeriya and Inner Mongolia Junzheng Energy.

The economic calendar for Wednesday is on point (all times Hong Kong):

  • 07.50: Japan machine tool orders and producer price inflation
  • 08.30: Australia Westpac consumer confidence
  • 09.30: China consumer and producer inflation
  • 13.00: Singapore retail sales
  • 15.30: Thailand foreign exchange reserves
  • 20.00: India consumer inflation and industrial production

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