Asian Markets Close Higher But Nikkei Slips

Asia markets closed mostly higher Tuesday after racking up solid gains in recent sessions. Upbeat data on U.S. new home saleslifted confidence on Wall Street and in Asia, but Japan markets slipped marginally to break their nine-day winning streak.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 lost 0.01 percent, or 1.41 points to close at 10087.26, while the broader Topix reversed earlier losses to close up 0.2 percent.

Corporate earnings reports took centerstage in Japan as Canon and Hitachi handed in their quarterly report cards. Canon logged a 72 percent drop in quarterly profit, hit by weak demand for copiers and a firmer yen, but it raised its full-year forecast by 6 percent. Canon shares closed down 0.3 percent ahead of the announcement.

Hitachi shares tumbled 3.6 percent after posting a loss of $870.5 millionand said it would launch a $2.9 billion bid for five subsidiaries help it return to profitability.

Toyota Motor gained some support from a report that said it is planning to rollout a compact hybrid car in 2011 that is supposedly more fuel efficient than the Prius. Toyota shares rose 0.5 percent. Japanese brewers Kirin Holdings and Sapporo Holdings bubbled higher after both firms raised their earnings forecasts.

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In Seoul, the KOSPI inched up 0.1 percent at the finish line to post its eleventh straight session of gains, buoyed by financial and shipping stocks but Korea Zinc slipped after posting weak quarterly results.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 extended their gains to close 0.7 percent higher as mining stocks reversed early losses. Investors digested the central bank governor's speech where he said economic risks were well balanced in the economyand that any downturn would not be as severe as what some had expected. Wesfarmers turned positive after the company's chief executive said he sees a better outlook for the Australian retail sector.

Greater China markets closed higher with the Shanghai Composite ending up by a marginal 0.1 percent as declines in coal miners offset gains in steel stocks.

The Hang Seng jumped 1.8 percent led by China Unicom on a report that China's No.2 wireless service provider had reached an agreement with Apple to be the sole supplier of the iPhone in China for three years. A Unicom official however said no formal agreement had been reached. Garment retailer Bossini International soared nearly 40 percent after the company said its controlling shareholder was in talks to sell his 68.58 percent stake in the company to a potential investor.

In South-east Asia, Singapore's STI closed 1.8 percent higher while Malaysia's KLCI ended flat.