Asia Ends Mostly Lower After China's Tightening

Asian stock markets closed mostly lower on Monday after the latest tightening move from China's central bank.

The FTSE CNBC Asia 100 index fell 0.3 percent.

China's stocks led the region's losses, with banking and property counters slipping, after the People's Bank of China announced a rise in lenders' required reserves for the fourth time in just over two months.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index ended 3 percent lower at 2,707. The index lost 1.7 percent last week amid lingering fears over monetary tightening steps.

Japan's Nikkei average gave up earlier gains on Monday as investors snapped up profits on recent climbers prompted by a slump in Chinese equities.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 ended the session up 3.82 points at 10,502.86.

Meanwhile, the broader Topix index shed 0.2 percent to 928.73.

Investors took profits on sectors outperforming a recent rally in the Nikkei, such as banks, which have surged 23 percent over the last 10 weeks, as foreign funds aggressively added laggard financial shares. Mizuho Financial Group dropped 0.6 percent to 168 yen.

Komatsu, which relies on China for about 20 percent of its sales of construction, mining and utility equipment, shed 1 percent to 2,513 yen and Hitachi Construction Machinery was 1.3 percent lower at 2,018 yen.

Seoul shares ended 0.4 percent lower on Monday as gains in construction issues and shipyards were outweighed by declines in steelmakers and crude refiners.

The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) ended down 0.39 percent at 2,099.85 points, after earlier hitting an all-time high of 2,118.86 points.

Crude refiners dipped, continuing to be pressured after South Korean President Lee Myung-bak was quoted as saying by local media reports last week that investigation into oil product pricing may be necessary due to their impact on consumer prices.

Shares in SK Innovation, formerly SK Energy and the country's top crude oil refiner, fell 3.2 percent.

Steelmakers also retreated, with POSCO, the world's No.3 steelmaker, down 1.4 percent and Dongkuk Steel losing 3 percent.

But, gains in shipyards also gave the market support as shares in STX Offshore & Shipbuilding rose 4.5 percent and Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering climbed 1.8 percent.

Airlines and travel-related issues also outperformed, as continued strength in the won pointed to stronger demand for travelling, especially ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday in February.

Shares in Asiana Airlines,the country's top air carrier, rose 2.9 percent. Shares in Hana Tour,an on-and-offline tour agency advanced 1.2 percent and Modetour climbed 4.7 percent.

Australian stocks ended 0.8 percent lower after the government said floods that damaged vast areas of the eastern seaboard were set to be the country's costliest natural disaster.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index closed down 38.4 percent at 4763.1.

Top miners BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto fell 1.2 percent and 1.9 percent, in response to China's tightening measures.

National Australia Bank led the banks lower, losing 0.4 percent.

However, investment bank Macquarie Group jumped 2 percent in line with upbeat earnings from U.S. peer JPMorgan.

Hong Kong stocks traded 0.5 percent lower while Singapore shares dipped 0.2 percent.