- Overnight on Wall Street, the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite both saw fresh closing highs.
- Moderna said Monday it's accelerating work on a Covid-19 booster shot for the recently discovered variant in South Africa.
- Markets in Australia and India were closed on Tuesday for holidays.
SINGAPORE — Stocks in Asia declined in Tuesday trade, with Chinese stocks leading losses among the region's major markets.
South Korea's Kospi closed 2.14% lower at 3,140.31.
In Japan, the Nikkei 225 slipped 0.96% to finish its trading day at 28,546.18 while the Topix index closed 0.75% lower at 1,848.
Minutes from the Bank of Japan's December monetary policy meeting showed members agreeing that the central bank would "not hesitate to take additional easing measures if necessary" as it monitors the impact of Covid-19.
"Based on this, most members shared the view that, as for policy rates, it would expect short- and long-term interest rates to remain at their present or lower levels," the minutes said.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell 1.72%.
Markets in Australia and India were closed on Tuesday for holidays.
Shares of Apple suppliers in Asia were mixed on Tuesday after the Cupertino-based tech giant's stock stateside rose to an all-time high on Monday.
In Japan, Taiyo Yuden shares gained 1.49% while Murata Manufacturing advanced 0.66%. In Taiwan, shares of Hon Hai Precision Industry — better known as Foxconn — fell 0.81% while Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company dropped 2.53%. LG Display's stock in South Korea jumped 2.34%. AAC Technologies shares in Hong Kong slipped 3%.
On the coronavirus front, Moderna said Monday it's accelerating work on a Covid-19 booster shot for the recently discovered variant in South Africa. The firm's researchers said its current coronavirus vaccine appears to work against the two highly transmissible strains found in the U.K. and South Africa, though it looks like it may be less effective against the latter.
Overnight on Wall Street, the S&P 500 rose 0.4% to a new record close of 3,855.36. The Nasdaq Composite also reached a fresh closing high, advancing 0.7% to 13,635.99. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lagged as it dipped 36.98 points to end its trading day at 30,960.
The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 90.496 after touching an earlier high of 90.613.
The Japanese yen traded at 103.77 per dollar, weaker than levels below 103.5 against the greenback seen last week. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.768, weaker than levels above $0.772 seen yesterday.
— CNBC's Berkeley Lovelace Jr. contributed to this report.