Asia Markets

Asia shares mixed; China underperforms ahead of GDP data

Asian equities were mixed on Tuesday with Chinese shares leading the declines after data showed money supply in the world's second largest economy grew its weakest pace in more than decade.

Caution also seeped in ahead of Wednesday's China data deluge, which includes first-quarter growth domestic product, March retail sales, industrial output and fixed asset investment.

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Earlier in the session, stocks rallied on the back of Wall Street's rebound overnight. The Dow and the both closed nearly 1 percent higher, after retail sales rose 1.1 percent on year in March, the largest gain in 18 months, while strong earnings from Citigroup also lifted sentiment.

Traders will be watching comments by Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen at the Atlanta Fed conference later on Tuesday, followed by a speech on Wednesday in New York.

Ukraine watched

Tensions in Ukraine remain firmly in focus. Pro-Russian separatists seized more government buildings in parts of eastern Ukraine on Monday, defying Kiev's deadline to disperse. In what could be a concessionary move, Ukraine's acting President said he is open to a referendum on more autonomy for the states.

Ex-Putin advisor: Russia won't annex East Ukraine

Shanghai Composite 1.4% lower

Mainland shares fell sharply after the broad M2 money supply missed forecasts for a 13 percent rise. Meanwhile, outstanding yuan loans rose 13.9 percent from a year earlier.

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"What caught analysts attention was a 19 percent drop in aggregate financing data on year. The key going forward is how this impacts growth and growth expectations. Questions remain around China's growth going forward and tomorrow's GDP print will offer more insight into how China is tracking," said Evan Lucas, market strategist at IG in a note.

Sentiment was also hurt on reports that the People's Bank of China conducted its biggest 1-day drain since February.

Financials were among the biggest losers. Citic Securities tumbled 3.6 percent while Merchants Bank and Minsheng Bank lost over 2 percent each.

Nikkei 0.6% higher

Japanese shares pared gains after rallying 1 percent to cross 14,000 points earlier in the session. Still, the index snapped its recent losing streak after hitting six-month lows in the previous two sessions. Speaking on Tuesday, economics minister Akira Amari said the 's recent losses was partly due to disappointment regarding the possibility of further easing by the Bank of Japan.

A slightly weaker yen underpinned gains on the benchmark index as the currency traded in sight of the 102 level against the dollar.

Investors went bargain hunting in blue-chip and heavyweight stocks like Softbank, which rallied over 3 percent. Meanwhile, Sony and Mitsubishi Electric added 0.4 percent each.

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ASX gains 0.5%

Australia's benchmark bounced back from the previous day's two-week closing low while the Australian dollar hovered around 94 U.S. cents following minutes from the Reserve Bank of Australia's April meeting.

The central bank said recent economic data hasn't changed its resolve to keep interest rates steady for a while and once again repeated that the local dollar remains historically high.

Miners were in focus on the back of quarterly production reports. Rio Tinto ended 0.1 percent higher after announcing that first-quarter global iron ore shipments rose 16 percent on year. Oz Minerals rallied over 2 percent despite posting an 11 percent decline in first-quarter copper output.

Sydney Airport fell 1 percent on news that the government will approve Sydney's second airport.

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India down 0.6%

Indian shares fell after data showed wholesale priced-inflation, the country's main inflation measure, rose to a three-month high of 5.7 percent in March, higher than Reuters forecasts for a 5.3 percent rise and February's 4.7 percent gain. Indian markets were shut on Monday for a public holiday.

Kospi 0.2% lower

South Korea's benchmark index erased early gains after crossing the 2,000 level for the first time in five sessions. A 1.4 percent decline in Hyundai Motor was the blame for the index's turnaround

Meanwhile, the continued to trade within sight of 1,030 per dollar hit earlier this month, its highest level since 2008.

"We think it's a China-led emerging markets thing. The won is benefiting from positive sentiment toward emerging markets and its historical sensitivity to swings in investor sentiment," said Tim Condon, head of research for Asia at ING Financial Markets in a note.