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Asian shares mixed on Greece, China growth fears

Asian stock markets traded mixed on Tuesday, amid tensions between Greece and its euro zone creditors, and as fresh Chinese data added to concerns about a persisting slowdown.

The mainland's consumer price index (CPI) rose 0.8 percent in January from a year ago period, below a Reuters consensus for a 1 percent gain. Wholesale prices, meanwhile, continued their declines. The producer price index fell an annual 4.3 percent, worse than the 3.8 percent expected decline.

Overnight, U.S. stocks finished lower as concerns over Greek debt negotiations continued to weigh on sentiment. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 0.5 percent while the S&P 500 and tech-heavy Nasdaq settled 0.4 percent lower.

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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Mainland indices higher

China's Shanghai Composite index widened gains to 1.5 percent late Tuesday, after briefly opening down into negative territory, as worse-than-expected inflation data fueled hopes of more stimulus.

"People expect that the PBOC will help the economy by cutting either the interest rates or required reserve ratio (RRR) after the Lunar New Year," Jackson Wong, associate director at United Simsen Securities, told CNBC's "Street Signs Asia." "After last week's RRR cut, there's a bigger chance of a rate cut because inflation is so low and is triggering a lot of deflation fears."

Founder Securities was among the day's biggest gainers, up nearly 7 percent, while banking majors like Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and Agricultural Bank of China rose over 1 percent each.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong equities held near the flatline. Shares of HSBC are in focus, down 1.5 percent, after news that the British banking giant helped more than 100,000 wealthy individuals avoid paying tax.

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Nikkei slips 0.3%

Japan's Nikkei 225 index fell on the back of profit-taking ahead of a holiday on Wednesday, and as safe-haven bids sent the yen higher against the U.S. dollar. Declines among index heavyweights like mobile carrier Softbank and Fast Retailing, owner of clothes brand Uniqlo, also weighed on the bourse.

Nissan outperformed the index with a jump of 3.8 percent, buoyed by better-than-anticipated results in the third quarter. The carmaker also lifted its operating profit forecast by 6.5 percent on Monday.

ASX falls 0.3%

Australia's S&P ASX 200 index closed down for the second consecutive session as banking majors headed south. Westpac led declines among the big four lenders with a 0.7 percent slide, while Commonwealth Bank of Australia, ANZ Banking and National Australia Bank shed between 0.3 to 0.5 percent.

The commodity sector was broadly lower despite a rise in commodity prices. Among losers, junior miner BC Iron receded more than 5 percent, while Woodside Petroleum and Santos slid 1.4 percent, respectively.

Earnings season kicks off in Sydney this week; Mining services company Bradken was the biggest loser of the day, slumping 22 percent, after reporting a steep half-year loss. Biotech firm Cochlear fell back into negative territory in the afternoon session despite news that its first half net profit more than tripled.

On the domestic data front, National Australia Bank's monthly index of business conditions remained subdued in January, while home prices across eight major cities rose 1.9 percent in the fourth quarter, a tick higher than expectations.

Kospi drops 0.6%

South Korea's Kospi index settled at a two-week low, as soft data from China - its key trading partner - depressed trading sentiment. The top two heaviest weighted stocks Samsung Electronics and Hyundai Motor sagged 1.2 and 0.6 percent each.

An announcement by the finance ministry which said sales at South Korea's top department stores were estimated to have fallen 9.7 percent in January - its worst fall on record - weighed on retailers. The country's three chain operators Hyundai Department Store, Lotte Shopping and Shinsegae made losses between 0.6 to 1.1 percent.

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Nifty gains 0.5%

India's Nifty index moved away from a three-week session low to close up, ahead of the results of New Delhi's assembly elections. According to a TV projection, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) could suffer its first election defeat at the hands of an anti-corruption party, Aam Admi or Common Man Party.