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Asian equities mixed in quiet trade; Weak yen supports Nikkei

Asian stock markets were mostly higher on Tuesday amid light volumes as markets in South Korea and Hong Kong were closed for the Mid-Autumn Festival.

Overnight in the U.S., Wall Street closed mixed with energy producers leading losses on oil's drop to a multi-month low.

The S&P 500 declined 0.3 percent as investors questioned whether the index had run its course after posting five straight weeks of gains and touching a fresh record high last week. The Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 0.2 percent while the tech-heavy Nasdaq rose 0.2 percent.

In Europe, the European Union formally adopted a package of new sanctions against Russia on late Monday, but said their entry into force would be delayed to leave time to assess whether a cease-fire in Ukraine is holding.

Symbol
Name
Price
 
Change
%Change
NIKKEI
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HSI
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ASX 200
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SHANGHAI
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KOSPI
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CNBC 100
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Tokyo rises 0.3%

Japan's benchmark Nikkei extended gains into a second straight session on Tuesday, lifted by a weak Japanese yen trading at a six-week low against the greenback.

Exporters were the main beneficiaries from a soft currency, with Honda Motor and Sony surging over 1 percent, respectively.

SoftBank continued its rally on news of Alibaba's highly-anticipated initial public offering in the U.S. The Japanese firm – a major shareholder in the Chinese e-commerce giant – widened gains to nearly 5 percent.

Released in early trade, minutes of the Bank of Japan's policy meeting revealed that some policymakers believe exports could be slow to respond to developments in overseas economies due to structural changes.

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Sydney adds 0.4%

Australia's key S&P ASX 200 closed at a session high of 5,607 on Tuesday, supported by gains in mining stocks. Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton reversed morning losses to closed 1 percent higher, each.

Banking majors also lifted the bourse; Macquarie Group rose 1.2 percent, while Australia and New Zealand Bank and Commonwealth Bank of Australia traded 0.3 and 0.2 percent higher, respectively.

Gold miner Newcrest Mining plunged 2 percent, on the back of slumping gold prices.

Meanwhile, National Australia Bank's measure of Australian business conditions pulled back from four-year highs in August as sales and profits eased.

Shanghai flat

Mainland shares bounced between gains and losses near the flatline on Tuesday, reacting to Monday's trade data which showed growth in China's imports slowed for the second straight month in August. The Shanghai Composite index was closed for a holiday in the previous session.

"The sharp drop in China's imports yesterday has sparked fears that activity in the country will remain under pressure for a prolonged period. This has prompted a cautious tone among investors in China with some of the recently outperforming stocks experiencing some profit taking," wrote IG market strategist Stan Shamu.

Financials were among the biggest losers; Bank of Communications tumbled over 1 percent while Bank of China lost 0.4 percent.

Outperforming the bourse was dairy firm Beingmate Baby & Child Food, which rose 10 percent on news of a tie-up with New Zealand's Fonterra.

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Taipei gains 0.3%

Taiwan's key TAIEX index finished modestly higher on Tuesday, as the majority of tech shares rallied ahead of Apple's iPhone 6 release. Pegatron advanced 2.4 percent while Catcher Technology lost early gains to slip 0.2 percent; Both firms are suppliers of the U.S. tech giant.

Wei-Chuan Foods fell over 3 percent on the back of the recent gutter-oil scandal.

The country's exports in August leapt 9.6 percent from a year earlier to $28.1 billion, its second-highest monthly level. A Reuters poll of analysts estimated exports would grow just 4.58 percent in August from a year earlier.