Australian shares eased 0.36 percent, with Bluescope Steel down 1.51 percent and Rio Tinto at 1.96 percent lower by Tuesday's close. Financials also lost ground as a probe into bank misconduct starts Tuesday; AMP lost 0.74 percent while Westpac crept down 0.2 percent.
The NAB business survey found that operating conditions in the country had improved in February, with sales and profits increasing sharply. The Australian dollar was against the U.S. dollar, trading at 0.7876 at 3:10 p.m. HK/SIN.
Over in Japan, the benchmark index Nikkei 225 alternated between being in the red and green before closing 0.66 higher despite fresh developments in a cronyism scandal that could hit Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government. Within the steel sector, JFE Holdings and Nippon Steel eased 0.68 percent each.
The yen fell after holding firm earlier in the day. The Japanese currency traded at 106.84 per U.S. dollar at 3:10 p.m. HK/SIN.
"While a less stable government might ordinarily lessen support for that currency, the market is also mindful about whether this could potentially call into question the longevity of the Abenomics reflation agenda," analysts from the National Australia Bank wrote in a Tuesday report.
South Korea's Kospi index was up 0.42 percent at the close, after steel player Posco recoup earlier losses to gain 0.14 percent. Other steel stocks such as Dongkuk Steel and Hyundai Steel, however, declined by 0.49 percent and 1.53 percent, respectively.
In Greater China, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index was 0.27 percent lower at 3:15 p.m. HK/SIN, while mainland China's Shanghai composite closed 0.46 percent down.
China said Tuesday it will merge its banking and insurance regulators to streamline and tighten oversight of the financial system.
Chinese banks rallied, with Agricultural Bank of China (ABC) surging close to 5 percent in Hong Kong and 2.48 percent in China. ABC, the third-largest bank in China and globally, announced on Monday it would raise as much as 100 billion yuan ($15.8 billion) in a private placement. China's Ministry of Finance would be one of its backers.