Across the Korean Strait, the Kospi erased losses seen earlier in the session to finish higher by 0.38 percent at 2,436.67. Blue-chip tech stocks, which had sold off in the last session, were a bright spot, while manufacturing names and financials recorded declines. Samsung Electronics rose 2.41 percent while Posco closed down 1.47 percent.
South Korea's Hyundai Heavy Industries plunged 28.75 percent after it announced Tuesday that it intended to list Hyundai Oilbank in 2018, Reuters reported. The move will likely raise some $1.2 billion through a share issue, Reuters said. Shares of holding company Hyundai Robotics fell 3.74 percent.
In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 closed flat as gains by gold producers were offset by moderate losses in most other sectors. The S&P/ASX All Ordinaries Gold sub-index rose 2.26 percent. Energy-related names also advanced, with Santos climbing 1.51 percent by the end of the day.
Greater China markets were in negative territory, with the Hang Seng Index off by 0.12 percent by 3:13 p.m. HK/SIN.
Losses in mainland markets steepened in afternoon trade. The Shanghai Composite lost 0.93 percent to end at 3,275.4, with technology, health care and financials among the worst-performing sectors on the day. In particularly, insurers were hit fairly hard: China Life fell 2.66 percent and Ping An Insurance lost 4.84 percent. The Shenzhen Composite shed 0.7 percent to close at 1,878.8.
Meanwhile, profits made by Chinese industrial companies rose 14.9 percent compared to one year ago, Reuters said, reflecting the poorest growth figure since April this year. Industrial profits had risen 25.1 percent in October.
Apple suppliers in Asia were also in the spotlight after Apple fell 2.5 percent during the U.S. session following a report from Taiwan's Economic Daily that the company will slash its iPhone X sales forecast. An Apple spokeswoman told Reuters that it did not comment on "market rumors."
Hong Kong lens manufacturer Sunny Optical lost 5.07 percent, and AAC Technologies tumbled 4.84 percent by 3:15 p.m. HK/SIN. Apple suppliers in Taiwan fared better, having already recorded losses earlier this week on that news. Pegatron closed up 1.43 percent and Hon Hai Precision Industry was higher by 1.1 percent.
U.S. stocks finished the Tuesday session lower following the long Christmas weekend. Retailers stateside notched gains, although losses were seen in the tech space. The Dow Jones industrial average closed off 0.03 percent, or 7.85 points, at 24,746.21.