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Key bourses in Asia nursed losses on Tuesday, as a mixed bag of Chinese inflation data offset a positive lead from Wall Street. Meanwhile, the Japanese and South Korean currencies hit new lows against the U.S. dollar as monetary policy divergence held sway.
China's consumer price index (CPI) rose 1.4 percent on year, beating expectations of a 0.9 percent rise predicted in a Reuters poll and following a 0.8 percent climb in January. But wholesale prices stayed entrenched in deflation, falling 4.8 percent in February, compared to forecasts of a 4.3 percent fall, and after the 4.3 percent drop in January.
Overnight, U.S. stocks closed higher, recovering from Friday's sharp decline as investors took a more positive outlook on the strong jobs report. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 0.8 points, while the S&P 500 settled 0.4 percent. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite finished 0.3 percent.
Mainland bourses down
An easing of deflationary risks failed to cheer Chinese markets, with the Shanghai Composite finishing 0.5 percent lower as key banking stocks gave way.
Agricultural Bank of China, Bank of China and China Construction Bank lost more than 2 percent each. Also among top losers, Poly Real Estate receded 2.9 percent, while China Life Insurance and China Pacific Insurance sagged more than 2 percent each.
"When you see producer prices fall 4.8 [percent on-year] then this has the added concern that corporate margins are being hit as the end product that businesses are producing is ultimately falling. Hence the equity market is under pressure today," Chris Weston, chief market strategist at IG, wrote in a note.
In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index slipped 0.8 percent, recovering modestly from a 7-week intra-day low of 23,897 points.
Nikkei drops 0.7%
Index heavyweights led the bourse lower; Fast Retailing and Softbank sold off 2 and 1 percent each, while Fanuc sagged 1 percent. Meanwhile, Laox struggled after it said it will raise up to about $255 million by issuing new shares. Shares of the electronics retailer tanked nearly 20 percent, a tick higher than its lowest level since January 29 of 251 yen.
However, a softer currency trading above 121 lifted some exporters; Nikon rallied 2.7 percent, while Honda and Canon gained 1 and 0.3 percent each. Toshiba and Sony, meanwhile, shed 0.2 and 1.2 percent each.
Australia's S&P ASX 200 index threw away early gains to finish near the flatline, a day after suffering its biggest one-day drop in two months.
A nearly 1 percent rally in the shares of Westpac helped to propel the bourse, while National Australia Bank, Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Australia & New Zealand Banking made gains between 0.2 and 0.4 percent.
But, a dismal resources sector, hurt by falling iron ore prices, limited advances. Fortescue Metals slumped 5.6 percent, while junior miners like BC Iron and Atlas Iron lost 7.4 and 6.3 percent, respectively.
Meanwhile, the Australian dollar sank to a near one-month low of $0.7650 to the dollar following lackluster Chinese producer price data.
Kospi slips 0.4%
Asiana Airlines dropped 6.1 percent on news that its parent company, Kumho Asiana Group, is taking over intercity bus transportation unit Kumho Buslines.
Meanwhile, the won fell to its weakest level against the dollar since August 2013. The currency was last quoted at 1,121 to the dollar.
— CNBC's Evelyn Cheng contributed to this market report