Asia stocks mostly higher; Shanghai and Japan lead gains

Asian equity markets were mostly higher on Tuesday with Shanghai and Japanese shares leading the gains despite the absence of a U.S. lead.

With Wall Street shut on Monday due to the Labor Day holiday, investors looked to Europe for trading cues. Bourses in the U.K., Germany and France closed flat to lower after regional manufacturing activity for August fell to a 13-month low. The data will likely be closely watched by the European Central Bank as it prepares to hold a policy meeting this Thursday.

Tensions over Ukraine and Russia remain in focus. Reuters reported that the European Union is working on contingencies if Moscow turns off the gas pipes in retaliation to additional sanctions. Separately, Ukraine has begun peace talks with pro-Russian separatists, who say they would be willing to remain as part of Ukraine if granted special status.

Read MoreUkraine: The struggle between hard and soft power

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Nikkei pops 1.2%

Japan's benchmark Nikkei closed at a seven-month high while the yen weakened to a new 2014 low after data showed that summer bonuses and regular pay rose for the second straight month in July. Sentiment also rose ahead of a planned cabinet reshuffle by Prime Minister Abe.

The weaker currency lifted exporters and industrial manufactures as it improves their overseas earnings; Olympus and Nintendo rallied 3 percent each.

Read MoreThe missing link in Asia's economic recovery

Index heavyweight Fast Retailing added 2 percent ahead of reporting August retail sales.

Shanghai rallies 1.4%

China's benchmark Shanghai Composite closed at its highest levels since June 2013 and extended gains into a third session.

Read MoreWill politics stir up an economic storm for Hong Kong?

Property stocks rose despite surveys from the China Real Estate Index System and E-House China Holdings showing that home prices fell for the fifth straight month in August. Shanghai Shimao rose nearly 2 percent while Vanke added 0.9 percent.

Port operators rallied ahead of an expected policy announcement on Wednesday. Shanghai International Port Group ended 2 percent higher while Tangshan Port rallied by the maximum daily limit of 10 percent.

ASX up 0.5%

Australia's benchmark S&P ASX 200 closed at a new six-year high after the central bank left monetary policy unchanged at its review and following better-than-expected balance of payment data.

Read MoreAustralia GDP preview: 'Smoke without fire'

Qantas Airways surged over 5 percent after Emirates airline said it wasn't interested in investing in the Australian carrier's international operations.

Kospi slips 1%

South Korean shares ignored Asia-wide gains to hit a near two-week low after data showed annual inflation in August fell to a five-month low, giving way to expectations that the central bank may now have room to cut interest rates at its meeting later this month.

Automakers were among of the biggest losers on the benchmark Kospi index. Hyundai Motor closed down nearly 3 percent while Kia Motors lost 0.8 percent after car sales dropped an annual 7.3 percent in August.

Nifty up 0.7%

Indian shares hit their second consecutive record high this week after data showed the economy's balance of payments for the April-June quarter remained in surplus for the third straight quarter.