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Asian Shares End Mixed Ahead Of U.S. Inflation Report


Asian stocks ended mixed on Tuesday as commodity prices retreated and investors awaited U.S. consumer inflation due later in the day to gauge the outlook for future interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve. The Federal Reserve is expected to raise interest rates four times this year if inflation picks up.

Chinese shares ended lower to snap a three-day winning streak after the country unveiled a massive cabinet reshuffle plan, including the merger of its banking and insurance regulators to better handle financial risks.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite index slid 15.42 points or 0.46 percent to 3,311.28 while Hong Kong's Hang Seng index closed marginally higher in choppy trade.

Japanese shares rose for a fourth day as a softer yen helped lift exporters, offsetting weakness in steelmakers and automakers. The Nikkei average climbed 144.07 points or 0.66 percent to 21,968.10 while the broader Topix index closed 0.56 percent higher at 1,751.03.

Canon rose 0.3 percent and Sony gained over 1 percent while Honda Motor shed 0.8 percent and Nippon Steel declined 0.7 percent. Oil firm Inpex lost 1.7 percent and Japan Petroleum Exploration tumbled 2.2 percent.

Australian shares closed lower amid broad-based selling as commodity prices fell and data on business confidence and new home loan approvals disappointed investors.

Business confidence in Australia ebbed in January, the latest survey from National Australia Bank revealed with an index score of +9. The total number of new home loans fell a seasonally adjusted 1.1 percent sequentially in January, official data showed.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index dropped 21.40 points or 0.36 percent to 5,974.70 while the broader All Ordinaries index ended down 24.30 points or 0.40 percent at 6,077.10.

Miners BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals Group fell 1-3 percent while steelmaker BlueScope Steel declined 1.5 percent. Gold miner Newcrest dropped 1.9 percent on brokerage downgrades.

Santos and Oil Search fell about 1 percent after crude oil prices declined more than 1 percent overnight. The big four banks ended down between 0.2 percent and 0.4 percent.

Seoul shares edged up amid gains in the technology sector. The benchmark Kospi rose 10.37 points or 0.42 percent to close at 2,494.49, with tech giants Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix rising 3.9 percent and 6 percent, respectively.

New Zealand shares bucked a weak regional trend to close higher after First NZ Capital upgraded Summerset's rating and the target price on the stock.

The benchmark S&P/NZX-50 index rose 9.15 points or 0.11 percent to 8,473.14 while shares of retirement village operator Summerset Group Holdings jumped 5.6 percent to a record high.

Malaysian shares were marginally higher. Malaysia's industrial output grew
3 percent year-on-year in January, slightly faster than the 2.9 percent expansion seen a month ago, a government report showed.

Benchmark indexes in India, Singapore and Taiwan were up between 0.2 percent and 0.9 percent while Indonesia's Jakarta Composite index was down as much as 1.5 percent.

Overnight, U.S. stocks ended mixed as trade-war worries lingered and investors awaited key data this week for direction. While the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite rose 0.4 percent to a fresh record closing high, the Dow dropped 0.6 percent and the S&P 500 slid 0.1 percent.

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