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.