Asian stocks decline after China data; Malaysia at record highs
Asian equity markets declined in tepid trade on Tuesday as investors digested a raft of Chinese economic reports and ignored a record close on Wall Street.
Data released on Tuesday showed Chinese November retail sales beat estimates while industrial output matched market expectations. The data follows stronger-than-expected trade figures released at the weekend and confirmed hopes that the world's second-largest economy can sustain its positive trend into year-end.
(Read more: Will China cut its 2014 growth target?)
Fed speeches in focus
On Monday, the S&P 500 index hit a record high following a slew of speeches by Federal Reserve officials. St. Louis President James Bullard said positive labor market trends make cuts to bond purchases more likely, while Dallas President Richard Fisher said that rising long-term U.S. Treasury yields suggest that investors are expecting a reduction in stimulus.
The speeches came before officials go into their "blackout" period before the two-day Fed policy meeting that starts next Tuesday.
(Read more: Fed taper won't bother investors: JPM's Lee)
Nikkei 0.2% lower
Japanese stocks took a breather after closing at a one-week high in the previous session. The pullback came even as dollar-yen climbed back above the 103 handle, trading near last week's six-month peak of 103.38.
A weak business outlook may be weighing on sentiment after a government survey showed sentiment among large manufacturers worsened in the October-December period.
(Read more: And the next driver for Japan stocks is…)
China's benchmark Shanghai Composite traded in a narrow 19-point range as the government's annual Central Economic Work Conference kicked off on Tuesday. Sentiment was dampened on news that People's Bank of China will be skipping Tuesday's open market operations.
Meanwhile, the yuan hit a fresh record high against the dollar for a second consecutive session at 6.0703.
(Read more: Is this currency the 'best on the planet?')
Shipbuilders were mixed on news that Beijing will extend aid to ailing shipbuilders with a fresh batch of "special funds" for acquiring new vessels. China Shipping Development rose nearly 1 percent while China Shipping Haisheng fell 1 percent.
Australia's S&P ASX 200 revered early gains to close at a new three-month low for a second straight session.
Storage firm Brambles lost 4.5 percent as its storage division Recall Holdings made its debut on the stock exchange at A$4.35.
QBE slumped over 9 percent, extending the previous day's 22 percent fall, after several brokerages downgraded the stock following the insurer's profit warning.
Kospi slips 0.3%
South Korean shares retreated after enjoying a 1 percent rally in the previous session as investors booked profits on large-cap stocks.
Emerging markets mixed
Malaysia's benchmark index hit a fresh record peak at 1,846 points before closing at 1,843.85 with a 0.1 percent rise, while Indian stocks provisionally closed down 0.36 percent after hitting an all-time high on Monday.
— By CNBC.com's Nyshka Chandran. Follow her on Twitter @NyshkaCNBC