Asia Markets

Asian shares mixed; Upbeat Nikkei rises 1.5%

See Kit Tang | News Assistant, CNBC Asia-Pacific

Asian shares were mostly higher on Tuesday, after a positive handover from U.S. equity markets boosted sentiment, with Japanese shares posting the biggest gains.

Stocks on Wall Street rallied on Monday as investors cheered merger and acquisition news and continued to disregard lackluster economic data, attributing it to harsh winter weather.

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The blue-chip Dow and the Nasdaq added over 0.6 percent each. The S&P 500 index rose to a high of 1,858.76, clearing its record intraday high set on January 15, before pulling back in the last hours of trade to close with a 0.6 percent gain.

Tokyo rallies 1.5%

Japanese stocks were the brightest spark in the region, with the benchmark Nikkei surging past the 15,000 mark to touch a three-and-a-half week high of 15,079.

Softbank piled on 4.2 percent, hitting its highest level in a month following a report that the company is seeking to buy a stake in Line, a mobile-messaging service under South Korea's Naver.

Short-term opportunities in Nikkei: Barclays

Meanwhile, index heavyweight Fast Retailing rose 1.5 percent while E-commerce firm Rakuten advanced 2.2 percent. Sony was the minority on Tuesday, posting a 0.5 percent drop.

"The Nikkei has had a weak start to the year (and now) it is seeing a rebound. Short-term positivity include the Bank of Japan (BOJ), which is still expected to ease further, if necessary, to support growth and that's also going to lead to yen weakness which is going to be helpful for exporters in terms of pushing up earnings growth," says Eddy Loh, Equity Strategist for Asia at Barclays, to CNBC's Cash Flow.

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Shanghai down 2%

After a volatile session, mainland shares posted their biggest loss in seven weeks.

Property stocks remained in focus, after seeing steep declines on Monday due largely to reports saying that Chinese lenders may have stopped credit lending to property developers owing to rising risk. Monday's data showing Chinese home prices easing for the first time in 14 months, further weighed on trading sentiment.

Vanke declined 1.8 percent while China Merchants Property gave up early gains, slipping 0.6 percent. Gemdale managed to recover from Monday's losses to rebound 1.7 percent.

Are concerns over China's property sector overblown?

However, some analysts didn't seem too concerned. Carol Wu, Head of Research, Equity Research, China Property at DBS Vickers told CNBC's Cash Flow, "I think market maybe over-panicked to latest news reports about the situation among Chinese developers. I believe bank credit to developers and home buyers will see a slower growth this year but it will remain fairly accessible. Developers will still be able to sell in first-tier cities, and I don't expect a replay of 2011's credit crunch where banks stop credit lending and buying sentiment weak."

Banking stocks were also in the doldrums; Shanghai Pudong Bank and Minsheng Bank slumped over 1.6 percent respectively.

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Sydney falls 0.1%

Australian shares reversed early gains, effectively snapping a seven-day rally after the benchmark S&P ASX 200 index touched 5,461, its highest level since June 2008, earlier in the session.

While National Australia Bank (NAB) and Macquarie saw gains of 0.2 and 1 percent each, losses in banking peers weighed on the overall market. Westpac dropped 0.5 percent while Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) slipped 0.2 percent.

Mining stocks further pulled down the index; Fortescue Metal raked in the greatest decline with a fall of 2.5 percent.

Earnings season continues in Sydney. Atlas Iron erased early gains to fall 2.3 percent, despite posting a first-half profit. Qantas Airways also lost early gains to fall 0.4 percent, after Australian media reports that the airline may announce 5,000 job cuts and asset selling when it releases its earnings on Thursday.

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Korea adds 0.8%

South Korean shares shrugged off Monday's dismal showing to pull in gains on Tuesday.

Naver is a top performer, rising more than 5 percent, upon news that Japan's Softbank may be keen on its messaging unit. Naver has however refuted the report.

Samsung remains in the limelight after releasing its latest Galaxy S5 at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Shares of the smartphone maker rose 0.5 percent.

Meanwhile, investors also digested President Park Geun-hye's three-year economic plan unveiled on Tuesday. The plan will focus on regulatory reform with an aim to boost gross domestic product (GDP) growth by 4 percent by 2017.

Bangkok rises 0.2%

The benchmark SET index rose, despite latest trade data showing that Thailand's trade deficit widened to $2.52 billion in January from $285 million in December. The Southeast Asian country continues to see escalating violence from ongoing demonstrations against Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

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