Equities in Shanghai and Tokyo surrendered early gains to close down late Tuesday, while the rest of the region took the lead from a strong finish on Wall Street overnight after Beijing unleashed new policy moves to shore up a wobbly property market.
According to a statement on the People's Bank of China's website, the required down payment for second homes was lowered to 40 percent from 60 percent. In addition, select homeowners who have held a property for two years or more will be exempted from a sales tax, the finance ministry later announced.
The new moves are part of "Beijing's broader package of policies to stabilize economic growth and dis-inflationary pressures," according to HSBC's note. As policymakers become increasingly concerned, analysts expect more easing measures in the coming weeks: "A 50-basis-point cut in the policy rate, a 200-basis-point cut to the reserve requirement ratio... in the coming months, if not weeks," HSBC said.
On Monday, U.S. stocks surged by more than 1 percent amid encouraging talk of stimulus in China and as investors eyed the week's domestic economic data. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 1.5 percent, while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite gained 1.2 percent each.
Shanghai Comp down 1%
China's benchmark Shanghai Composite index erased early gains to retreat from fresh seven-year highs attained at the open as investors took profit on rallying property counters.
Reversing earlier advances on the back of expectations for policy support, China Merchants Property, Poly Real Estate and China Vanke receded between 1.5 and 3 percent. Banking plays such as Bank of Communications and Bank of China also surrendered gains to close down 1.5 percent each.
China Merchants Securities finished near the flatline despite delivering a 72.5 percent rise in 2014 net profit.
Nikkei falls 1.05%
Japan's Nikkei 225 index widened losses as investors took profits on the last trading day of the fiscal year and ahead of key economic data like the Bank of Japan's tankan survey due at 0750 SIN/HK on Wednesday.
Bucking the downtrend, Fujifilm Holdings bounced up nearly 2 percent following news that it is acquiring U.S. biotechnology firm Cellular Dynamics International for $307 million. Baby products maker Pigeon soared 3.3 percent on the back of the its plan to carry out for a 3-for-1 stock split.
ASX jumps 0.8%
Australia's S&P ASX 200 index closed up amid a broad-based rally, recouping nearly all of Monday's steep decline.
Oil and gas producers, along with miners, were among the biggest gainers after being heavily sold-off in the previous session. Liquefied Natural Gas jumped 4.3 percent, while Santos and Woodside Petroleum climbed more than 1 percent each. BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto rose 3 and 2.5 percent, respectively, despite iron ore prices slumping to a six-year low overnight.
"Although they're bouncing today, investors should remain wary of the sector. Further falls in commodity prices are expected over the coming months, which could certainly inflict more pain," Motley Fool's analysts wrote in a report.
Financials were also buoyant, with Australia & New Zealand Banking leading gains in the sector, up 0.8 percent.
Meanwhile, Ansell will acquire U.K.-based protective clothing company Microgard for approximately $88 million. Shares of the glove and condom maker closed down 0.8 percent as Morningstar downgraded its rating on the stock to reduce from hold.
Kospi gains 0.5%
South Korea's Kospi index was bolstered by a positive showing of its blue-chip and financial plays.
Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) leaped 5.6 percent after being named as the preferred bidder for a multibillion-dollar deal to develop a new fighter jet.
Straits Times sheds 0.2%
Singapore's key stock index was one of the laggards in the region on Tuesday, pulling back from a 10-month high after data showed bank lending fell 0.7 percent on-month in February.