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Asia stocks drift lower in subdued trade; Fed uncertainty weighs

Asian stocks pared back some of their losses on Tuesday as investors continued to fret about the future of U.S. monetary stimulus among a lack of market catalysts.

The Shanghai Composite, Australia's S&P ASX 200 and South Korea's Kospi all posted modest losses while Japan's Nikkei and India's benchmark index were flat.

"Asian traders have largely sat on their hands today, and asked where to from here as it seems price action in many risk assets is looking a little tired. There hasn't been any major news today and the weaker leads from Europe and Wall Street have simply been replicated in Asian markets," wrote Chris Weston, market strategist at IG in a note.

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

Fed officials speak

A raft of comments from Federal Reserve officials weighed on U.S. stocks and added to investor confusion as to when chairman Ben Bernanke will reduce the monthly $85 billion bond-buying program.

New York Fed President William Dudley said the central bank still needs to push hard against threats to the U.S. economic recovery, and fiscal uncertainties in particular "loom very large right now." Meanwhile, Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher said Bernanke's decision to keep stimulus intact has hurt the central bank's credibility.

(Read more: 'Dr. Doom' Roubini makes case FOR the US economy)

Shanghai 0.6% lower

China's benchmark index fell on profit taking but managed to close above the 2,220 level after losing as much as 1.4 percent earlier in the session to hit a one-week low.

Property stocks were sold off after the official China Securities Journal said that the government is organizing a new round of training next month to prepare tax officials to introduce property taxes.China Merchants Property and Poly Real Estate fell over 3 percent each.

Banking stocks were also lower with China Construction Bank and Agricultural Bank of China down 1.5 percent each after an editorial in the China Securities Journal said that financial reforms will be a priority at a policy meeting later this year.

Nikkei flat

Japan's benchmark index resumed trade on a weaker note after being shut for a long weekend as the yen strengthened to the 98 handle against the U.S dollar.

Real-estate developers weighed on the index with Tokyo Tatemono and Tokyu Land lower by nearly 4 percent each. Automakers also dropped; Hino Motors and Isuzu Motors fell 3 percent each.

But Apple suppliers outperformed after the tech giant announced that sales for its new iPhone had set a record. Daishinku rallied 2 percent while Murata Manufacturing rose 1.5 percent.

Sydney slips 0.3%

Australian equities dipped below the 5,240 mark in quiet trade as lower metals prices hurt the resource-heavy index.

Bellwether miners BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto eased 0.7 percent each after copper prices extended their two-day losing streak. Mineral Resources tanked 9 percent to a one-month low due to operational concerns at its Western Australian mine.

Minerals producer Metals X surged over 8 percent after agreeing to buy Alacer Gold's Australian precious-metal assets for $37 million.

Seoul 0.1% lower

South Korea's benchmark index tracked Asia-wide losses but moderate gains in tech stocks helped the index close off session lows.

Apple chip supplier LG Display rallied over 2 percent following the tech giant's strong sales report while Samsung Electronics closed up 1 percent following a 2 percent drop earlier in the session.

— By CNBC.com's Nyshka Chandran. Follow her on Twitter @NyshkaCNBC

Symbol
Price
 
Change
%Change
NIKKEI
---
ASX 200
---
EUR1M=
---
KOSPI
---
3422
---
BHP
---
FMG
---
AAPL
---
SHANGHAI
---
JPY/USD
---
RIO
---
549
---
593
---

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