Top Stories
Top Stories
Asia Markets

Shanghai outperforms Asian markets in regional slump

Asian equity markets largely fell on Tuesday, with Shanghai being an exception, over a persisting slump in oil prices and after latest data added to concerns about slowing activity in the world's second-largest economy.

The flash HSBC/Markit China manufacturing purchasing managers' index (PMI) slipped to 49.5 from a final reading of 50 in November, contracting for the first time in seven months. The 50-point level separates growth from contraction.

Read More New China free trade zones to lift growth

Overnight, U.S. stocks finished lower, topping off a wild ride that had the Dow Jones Industrial Average trading in a more than 300-point range on either side of neutral as crude prices came under renewed selling pressure.

U.S. crude futures were trading on Tuesday below $56 a barrel and near a 5-year low hit in the prior session, dropping for a fifth session after the UAE oil minister said there was no need for an emergency OPEC meeting to support prices. London Brent crude for January delivery was untraded yet, after settling down 79 cents at $61.06.

Underscoring the gloom, Russia's central bank sharply raised its key interest rate to halt a collapse in the rouble as the oil-dependent economy slides towards a recession on the back of plunging oil prices and Western sanctions.

Asia-Pacific Market Indexes Chart

Nikkei skids 2%

Japan's key Nikkei 225 index fell below the 17,000 level to end Tuesday at a five-week low, on the back of a stronger yen.

As a result, exporters languished. Nintendo slumped 4 percent while Nissan and Suzuki Motor closed down 2.6 and 3.3 percent each.

Heavyweight components Fast Retailing and Softbank lost 1.1 and 2.2 percent, respectively.

Bucking the market, Skymark Airlines soared 23 percent after the Asahi Shimbun reported that the struggling carrier asked for help from both ANA Holdings and Japan Airlines by selling flights under their codes from next spring.

Read MoreAbe win does little to spur Japan's economy

Mainland bourses mixed

China's benchmark Shanghai Composite index reversed opening losses to rocket up 2.3 percent on the back of roaring blue-chip financials. CITIC Securities, Haitong Securities and Huatai Securities rose the maximum allowable 10 percent each.

Infrastructure plays also traded higher on news of fresh supportive measures from authorities. Beijing approved infrastructure projects worth $31 billion, which includes a third airport in the capital and 5 roads in the southern and central region. China Railway Group charged 1 percent while Anhui Conch Cement gained 0.4 percent.

In Hong Kong, the key Hang Seng index extended Monday's losses to trade 1.2 percent lower.

Sydney siege ends after shootout; three dead

ASX drops 0.7%

Australia's benchmark S&P ASX 200 index chalked up a sixth consecutive losing session, tracking weakness in the U.S. overnight and the relentless slide in energy prices.

Commodity stocks were battered, particularly oil and gas producers. Oil Search tanked 2.8 percent, while Woodside Petroleum and Santos lost 2.6 percent each. Iron ore miners BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto also settle down 3.2 and 1.6 percent, respectively.

Outdoor clothing firm SurfStitch debuted at a small discount in Australia after raising A$83 million ($68.24 million) in an initial public offering.

The Australian dollar gained 0.3 percent against the U.S. dollar despite minutes of the Reserve Bank of Australia's December policy meeting revealed that the central bank felt a further decline in the local currency was needed to help cushion the economy from falling resource prices.

Meanwhile, heavily armed police stormed into the cafe early Tuesday morning and freed a number of hostages held there, ending a sixteen-hour siege in which three people including the attacker were killed. A police source named the hostage taker as Man Haron Monis, an Iranian refugee and self-styled sheikh who was charged last year with being an accessory to the murder of his ex-wife.

Read MoreSydney hostage crisis in pictures

Kospi loses 0.9%

South Korean shares tracked Asia-wide losses to finish near Monday's eight-and-a-half-week session low. Electronics giant Samsung Electronics was in focus after data showed that it continued to lose market share to rivals like Apple, Xiaomi and Huawei in the third quarter of 2014, in countries like China. Shares of the South Korean firm appeared unaffected to rise 0.5 percent.

Meanwhile, the won gained 1 percent to touch a five-week high of 1,086 against the greenback late Tuesday.

Tracking the fall of Indonesia's rupiah

Emerging markets fall

India's Nifty index slipped 1.8 percent to touch a near seven-week low of 8,067 points while the rupee raced to a one-year low of 63.36 against the U.S. dollar at 1525 SIN/HK.

Indonesia's Jakarta Composite index sagged 1.6 percent to hit a new 5-week low while the local rupiah weakened to its lowest level since October 1998, trading at 12,695 against the greenback late Tuesday.

"The fall of Asian currencies have a lot more to do with broader global dis-inflationary fears, rather than the U.S. FOMC meeting," Adarsh Sinha, head of Asia Pacific G10 FX Strategy at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, told CNBC's "Capital Connection. "

"India is a country which benefits from lower oil prices but what's happening is when the market prices in dis-inflationary fears, that's the environment which is typically very bad for Asian currencies, which are high yielders and have high current account deficits. That refers to India and Indonesia."