Asian shares lower as oil and Greece uncertainties weigh

Fresh anxiety over the turmoil in oil markets and political uncertainty in Greece dragged most Asian indices lower on Tuesday, with Tokyo, Seoul and Hong Kong hitting new lows. Wall Street's mixed finish overnight did little to lift trading sentiment.

In early Asian trade, U.S. crude futures were up 6 cents to $53.67 a barrel, but it still held close to its lowest level in more than five years. Brent oil extended losses into a fourth session on Tuesday, as worries over a global supply glut offset concerns about output disruptions in Libya.

Symbol
Name
Price
 
Change
%Change
NIKKEI
---
HSI
---
ASX 200
---
SHANGHAI
---
KOSPI
---
CNBC 100
---

Nikkei loses 1.6%

In its final trading day of the year, Japan's Nikkei 225 closed at a two-and-a-half-week low of 17,450 on the back of rangebound trading in the yen, but the benchmark managed an increase of 7.1 percent for the year. Meanwhile, the broader Topix index gained 8.1 percent year to date.

Losses in index heavyweights weighed on the bourse on Tuesday; Fast Retailing, mobile carrier Softbank and robot maker Fanuc made losses between 1.9 to 1.5 percent.

Fujifilm Holdings receded over 2 percent after a man in Tokyo suspected of contracting the Ebola virus was given the all-clear. The stock had rallied 0.4 percent in the last session.

Japanese markets will be shuttered until January 5. In other news, the ruling coalition has approved a tax reform plan that will cut the corporate tax rate from April and pledge further reductions in coming years.

Read MoreIs this Asia's new manufacturing hub?

ASX drops 1%

Australia's benchmark S&P ASX 200 index finished lower on Tuesday as declines in commodity-related stocks took a toll on the resource-heavy bourse.

Energy producers came under pressure amid falling oil prices. Santos and Liquefied Natural Gas slumped more than 3 percent each while Oil Search tanked 1.5 percent. Gold miners were also lower as spot gold holds below $1,200; Alacer Gold lost 3.6 percent and Evolution Mining threw away 0.8 percent.

Financials erased early gains, with Macquarie Group and Australia and New Zealand Banking Group settling down 0.9 and 0.6 percent, respectively.

Meanwhile, the Australian dollar dwindled to a near four-and-a-half-year low against the greenback. At 1530 SIN/HK, the currency fetched $0.8135.

Read MoreIndia's 'Make in India' drive lacks skilled labor

Kospi falls 0.6%

South Korean equities closed at one-and-a-half-week low as mixed trading in the top 3 stocks with the heaviest weighting held back the key Kospi index.

Samsung Electronics inched down 0.2 percent, but steelmaker Posco and Hyundai Motor plunged 1.3 and 1.5 percent each. Succumbing to the fall in oil prices, energy plays S-Oil and SK Innovation reversed early gains to tank 0.5 and 0.9 percent each.

Mainland indices mixed

China's Shanghai Composite index closed flat amid choppy trade. Among the actively traded stocks, Everbright Bank rallied 8 percent while Citic Securities added 4 percent. China State Construction Engineering made losses of 1.4 percent.

Energy-related stocks pared losses, with Sinopec and PetroChina closing up 0.2 and 1 percent each. The state media reported that China's largest oil field is expected to cut production by 1.5 million tonnes in 2015, following the recent slump in oil prices.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index dropped 1.1 percent to hit a one-week low late Tuesday.

Search for missing AirAsia jet continues
Search for missing AirAsia jet continues   

Missing AirAsia jet, Greece

Meanwhile, Indonesian officials have confirmed that debris found off the coast of the island of Borneo, including luggage, life vests and bodies, is from AirAsia flight QZ8501, which went missing early on Sunday.

Shares of the Malaysian budget carrier rebounded more than 1 percent on Tuesday, after tumbling over 7 percent to a four-week low of 2.690 ringgit in the last session.

Read MoreWhy Greece could cause a shiver, not a chill

In Europe news, Greek politicians failed to elect a president in a key vote, paving the way for a snap election on January 25, 2015. While the result did not come as a surprise for many analysts, the news sent European stocks lower, with Greek stocks falling as much as 11 percent on Monday.

In Tuesday's Asian trading, the euro hovered near $1.2142 at 1530 SIN/HK, its lowest level since August 2012.

"An election puts all sorts of doubt on the future of the bailout agreement given anti-austerity party Syriza is currently leading the polls. While (European) markets had already priced this in, I would still remain cautious around Greece," wrote IG market strategist Stan Shamu in a note.