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Asian Markets End Lower on Profit-Taking

Asia's key indices closed in the red on Tuesday, with Japan and South Korea giving up early gains as profit-taking took hold.

Markets showed muted reaction to talks between U.S. President Barack Obama and his Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao in Beijing. The countries had agreed to work to ease trade and economic tensions but did not make significant comments on currencies.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 Averageclosed 0.6 percent lower at 9729.9 points.

It saw modest gains early but fell off into the morning close, as a strong yen weighed on exporters and investors cashed in on recent gains amid long-term uncertainty about the economy.

But Canon climbed 3 percent following Monday's news that it plans to buy Dutch copier and printer maker Oce.

In South Korea, the benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index slipped in afternoon trade to close 0.4 percent lower at 1,585.98 points.

Shares of Hynix Semiconductor slumped 6.6 percent, after its creditors, represented by Korea Exchange Bank, said they might sell their collective 28-percent stake in a block deal if a public auction proves unsuccessful.

The won's rise to a 14-month high weighed on exporters, with Hyundai Motor down 1.96 percent.

Australian stocks turned negative as the market gave up earlier gains.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 ended Tuesday's session down 0.5 percent to 4,729.4 points, weighed down by banking stocks.

CBA, the country's biggest mortgage lender, shed 2.5 percent, while Westpac declined 2.3 percent, on the prospect that an interest rate hike next month would crimp their lending businesses.

Stronger base metal and bullion prices boosted miners such as BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto.

Takeover target AXA Asia Pacific Holdings slipped 2.5 percent as doubts emerged that there would be a higher offer for the company.

HK Breaches 23,000 Briefly

Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index touched the 23,000 level on Tuesday before scaling back to 22,914.15 points, or 0.1 percent lower.

Meadville Holdings surged as much as 48 percent to a record high HK$3.18 after TTM Technologies agreed to buy its printed circuit board business for $521 million.

But Ming Hing Waterworks fell 10 percent on profit taking after yesterday's rise to 20-month high on news it will acquire five mining sites in Mongolia.

China Metal Recycling was a top drag, slumping 45 percent to a four-month low of HK$6.17 following the resignation of its executive director, who said the board had failed to address his concerns on certain issues. The company had denied the allegation.

Chinese stocks lingered in positive territory in heavy trade as the market took a breather after rallying 2.7 percent the previous day.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite stood at 3,282.9 points or 0.2 percent higher in the afternoon, after touching a fresh three-month intraday high of 3,298.37 points.

China Merchants Securities rose a weaker-than-expected 13 percent from its IPO price of 31 yuan on its Shanghai debut. The company, controlled by conglomerate China Merchants Group, raised 11.1 billion yuan ($1.63 billion) in its initial public offering.

Taipei Slips on Profit-Taking

In Taiwan, the Taiex's positive run lost steam on profit-taking. The benchmark index slipped 0.7 percent to close at 7,733.2 points, after opening 1 percent higher on improved U.S. consumer confidence.

Investors sold financials such as Cathay Financials, which had gained sharply in anticipation of a financial services agreement between China and Taiwan.

Index heavyweight Cathay Financial led gains initially but reversed course and shed 2.46 percent. Chinatrust Financial, the island's top credit card issuer, dropped 3.3 percent.

Markets in Singapore and Malaysia drifted in opposite direction. The Straits Times Index edged down 0.9 percent by the close, while the KLCI was up 0.1 percent at 1,279.95 points.

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