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Asian equities mixed in cautious trade after weak US data

Asian stocks ended mixed on Tuesday as weak U.S. economic data and caution ahead of this week's key risk events weighed on sentiment.

The U.S. Institute for Supply Management's non-manufacturing index came in at 53 in December, its lowest level in five months and below estimates for a 54.6 figure, leading the S&P 500 to book its third consecutive loss.

Investors are looking ahead to Wednesday's release of minutes from the Fed's recent policy meeting, policy decisions from the European Central Bank and Bank of England on Thursday, and finally, Friday's closely-watched December U.S. non-farm payrolls report.

Meanwhile, traders also reacted to news that the U.S. Senate approved Janet Yellen to become the next chair of the Federal Reserve, making her the first woman to head the U.S. central bank in its 100-year history.

(Read more: Street awaits confirmation of better job market)

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

Nikkei slips 0.6%

Japan's benchmark Nikkei extended the previous day's 2 percent fall due to a combination of a stronger yen and a bout of profit-taking. Dollar-yen fell below the 104 handle overnight before paring losses in early Asia trade as investors bought into the safe-haven Japanese currency ahead of Friday's U.S. jobs report.

Declines in large-cop stocks continued to weigh on the index; construction equipment maker Komatsu fell 1.6 percent while Nikon lost 2.3 percent. Fast Retailing lost 1 percent despite announcing a 1.1 percent rise in December same-store sales at its Uniqlo stores.

(Read more: Japan's tax hike won't hit all retailers equally)

Shanghai flat

Mainland shares managed to close just above the flat line but still traded within sight of the previous day's five-month low after the People's Bank of China skipped open-market operations and as investors digested the latest news from the country's banking regulator.

Beijing said it plans to mitigate liquidity risks and strengthen the regulation of risky off-balance sheet lending by enforcing more supervision of the interbank, wealth management and investment business.

The news sparked 1 percent losses for Minsehng Bank and China Communication Bank.

(Read more: Here's how bad China's bad loan problem could get)

Sydney eases 0.1%

Australia's benchmark S&P ASX 200 reversed gains in the final hour of trade to close in negative territory, one day after suffering it's biggest one-day drop in three weeks.

Underpinning gains throughout the session was November's better-than-expected trade deficit, which came in at A$188 million compared to forecasts for a A$300 million deficit.

(Watch: Australia on track to deliver 2014 surplus: RBC)

Sharp losses among miners contributed to the index's slip. Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals dropped 2 and 4 percent, respectively as copper prices hovered near two-week lows.

Kospi rises 0.3%

South Korean shares continued to benefit from bargain hunting as well as a stronger Japanese currency since it makes local goods cheaper in overseas markets by comparison. Kia Motors outperformed by nearly 3 percent.

Samsung Electronics closed 0.2 percent lower after announcing that its October-December operating profit likely fell 18 percent to $7.8 billion from the previous quarter's record earnings.

India slips 0.45%

Indian shares extended losses after data showed foreign investors were net sellers on Monday. Shares closed the session lower by 0.45 percent

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

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