Asian stocks ended a choppy session on a mixed note Tuesday after U.S. shares recovered from sharp losses to close higher overnight.
A cautious undertone prevailed as U.S.-China trade tensions simmered, oil held its biggest loss in two weeks and U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May postponed a Parliamentary vote on Brexit deal.
Chinese shares closed higher ahead of industrial output and retail sales figures for November, due on Friday. The benchmark Shanghai Composite index rose 9.51 points or 0.37 percent to 2,594.09 while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index inched up marginally to end at 25,771.67.
Japanese shares fell modestly to close near their lowest level since March, dragged down by financials and cyclical stocks.
The Nikkei average dropped 71.48 points or 0.34 percent to 21,148.02, the lowest level since late March. The broader Topix index closed 0.91 percent lower at 1,575.31, the lowest closing level since May 2017.
Growing uncertainty in the face of trade frictions pulled down automakers, with Toyota Motor, Mazda Motor and Nissan Motor falling 1-3 percent.
Banks Mizuho Financial, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group shed 1-2 percent as the threats of a no-deal Brexit become very real. Insurer Dai-ichi Life Holdings declined 1.5 percent and T&D Holdings gave up 2.8 percent.
SoftBank jumped 2.5 percent after it set the final price for the 2.65 trillion yen initial public offering of its Japanese telecom business at its original target.
Australian markets rebounded from a near two-year low to end modestly higher. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 ended up 23.40 points or 0.42 percent at 5,575.90, while the broader All Ordinaries index rose by 23.70 points or 0.42 percent to 5,651.20.
Healthcare shares led the surge, with Cochlear climbing 2.9 percent and CSL rising 2.1 percent. Mining heavyweights BHP and Rio Tinto rose over 1 percent while gold miners ended on a mixed note.
Energy stocks fell after U.S. crude oil futures fell over 3 percent on Monday on concerns about a likely drop in crude demand due to weak global growth outlook. Santos, Oil Search and Beach Energy lost 1-2 percent.
The big four banks rose between 0.2 percent and 0.8 percent. QBE Insurance Group slumped 4.1 percent after it announced a three-year operational efficiency program targeting net savings of A$130 million in 2021 and restructuring costs of A$95 million over 2019-20.
On the economic front, official data showed that house prices in Australia dropped 1.5 percent sequentially in the third quarter of 2018. That exceeded expectations for a decline of 1.6 percent following the 0.7 percent drop in the three months prior.
Seoul stocks drifted lower amid selling by foreign investors on persistent concerns over global trade frictions and an economic slowdown. The benchmark Kospi fluctuated before finishing marginally lower at 2.052.97. Pharmaceutical giant Celltrion plunged 10 percent on news that its affiliate, Celltrion Healthcare, allegedly inflated revenue through inter-affiliate trading.
New Zealand shares ended marginally higher, with the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index closing up 10.92 points or 0.13 percent at 8,670.94. Fast-food operator Restaurant Brands New Zealand rallied 2.5 percent after it signed an agreement with Taco Bell Restaurants Asia to bring the Taco Bell brand to both New Zealand and New South Wales in Australia.
Overnight, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell as much as 507 points before recovering to finish the session up 34.31 points or 0.1 percent at 24,423.26.
The S&P 500 inched up 0.2 percent and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite added 0.7 percent.