Asia Markets

Asian stocks rise after China GDP beats estimate

Asian stock markets traded higher late Tuesday, with sentiment supported by China's fourth quarter gross domestic product which beat expectations to come in at 7.3 percent from the year-ago period. This was a tick higher than the 7.2 percent forecast by analysts and holding steady from the prior quarter.

In other news, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) trimmed its global growth forecast for 2015-16, cautioning that the boost from lower crude oil prices would be offset by dimmer economic prospects for China, Russia, the euro area, Japan and oil producers.

U.S. markets were closed for the Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday.

Mainland indices up

China's benchmark Shanghai Composite index rose nearly 2 percent, after flitting between positive and negative in volatile intraday trade, following a slightly better-than-expected growth report card. In the previous session, the key stock index slumped 7.7 percent - its biggest daily percentage drop in over six years - to a three-and-a-half-week low on the back of declines in property developers. A crackdown on margin lending also led to losses in the financial sector.

Brokerages continued the downtrend on Tuesday over concerns related to the regulatory moves, with Citic Securities and Haitong Securities leading declines with a 9.8 and 8.7 percent plunge, respectively. Founder Securities also receded 4.2 percent.

"1 trillion of outstanding margin financing isn't a small amount so definitely, there will be a pop. Stocks like Haitong and Citic dropped by 10 percent yesterday, but in Hong Kong, there was 10-15 percent fall, so A-shares will catch up to H-shares today by dropping further," Dickie Wong, executive director at Kingston Securities, told CNBC.

Among top gainers, train makers CSR and China CNR rose by the maximum allowable 10 percent each. Property majors also recouped Monday's losses; China Merchants Property and Poly Real Estate each jumped over 3 percent.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong's Hang Seng index settled 0.9 percent higher.

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Nikkei up 2.1%

Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 touched a two-week high, buoyed by dollar-yen which inched up above the 118 handle - its highest in a week. Exporter stocks including Nikon and Panasonic rallied more than 3 percent each, while automakers Toyota Motor, Suzuki Motor and Nissan also made gains between 2.6 and 1.8 percent each.

Sharp bucked the rising trend to retreat 1.3 percent on news that it could slide back into the red this financial year due to fierce price competition in television and other key products.

Trading house Itochu was among the top losers for the day, retreating 2.5 percent after it announced that it is teaming up with Thailand's CP Group to invest in China's Citic Group.

Meanwhile, the Bank of Japan commences its two-day monetary policy on Tuesday and it is unlikely to roll out further easing, analysts say. "Cheaper oil is a bliss for Japan. They are already buying enough JGBs and the yen is weak enough so there is no reason for additional easing," Takuji Okubo, principal and chief economist at Japan Macro Advisors, told CNBC Asia's "Squawk Box."

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ASX flat

Australia's key S&P ASX 200 index closed little changed on Tuesday, helped by positive data from China which helped the bourse to pare an earlier 0.5 percent decline. Meanwhile, the Australian dollar ticked down 0.5 percent to buy $0.8175 to the dollar.

Rio Tinto, which announced a 12 percent rise in fourth quarter output on-year despite a big drop in the price of iron ore, shed 0.8 percent, while BHP Billiton also closed down by the same margin. Atlas Iron tanked 5.3 percent after the miner slashed its FY 2015 capital expenditure guidance due to challenging market conditions.

"While [the GDP data] is below the growth target, 7.4 percent isn't too far away and that suggests demand remains. Hence, it will have a positive effect in the short term, but it will still boil down to [iron ore] prices in the long run," John Wilson, stock broker at Morgans Financial, said.

Australia's banking sector is in focus, as ANZ Banking prepares to kick off a sale process for its vehicle and equipment finance business Esanda. Shares of the lender notched up nearly 1 percent, while players seen interested in the asset including Macquarie Group and Bank of Queensland climbed up 2.7 and dropped 0.1 percent, respectively.

Alacer Gold and Evolution Mining closed up nearly 4 percent each as spot gold hovered near a four-month high. Gold stocks will remain the "flavor of the month" as traders see benefit in hedging out risks around central-bank-induced volatility, IG's chief market strategist Chris Weston noted.

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Kospi rises 0.8%

South Korean shares advanced on the back of a robust performance among blue-chip majors. Samsung Electronics, the heaviest weighted stock on the Kospi index, added more than 2 percent on news that the electronics giant could be considering a stock split, said Reuters quoting an executive.

Kepco jumped 6.1 percent on expectations that the country's largest utility could post better-than-expected fourth quarter profits.

Korean Air is in focus as its former executive, Cho Hyun-ah, appeared in court for violating aviation safety laws after causing a plane to be delayed last December. Shares of the airline notched up 1.7 percent. Retailer Shinsegae widened losses to close down 1.2 percent late Tuesday after it announced a record 3.4 trillion investment into mega malls and logistics centers.

Emerging Asia

Malaysia's benchmark FTSE Bursa Kuala Lumpur Composite index slipped 0.2 percent as Prime Minister Najib Razak announced a revised budget on Tuesday. An increase in the country's fiscal deficit target to 3.2 percent of gross domestic product for 2015 and a cut in growth forecast was announced amid plunging global oil prices. The Malaysian traded at 3.6130 against the greenback.

India's benchmark indices were trading at more than 6-week highs on Tuesday, with the Nifty and BSE Sensex rising 0.5 percent each.