Asia Stocks Directionless Tuesday

Asian equities wavered on Tuesday, ahead of the U.S. Federal Reserve's two-day monetary policy meeting and as European political uncertainty weighs on sentiment.

The Nikkei 225 Index loosed 24.25 points, or 0.1%, to 19,609.50

The Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong dropped 1.72 points to 23,827.95

Toshiba clawed back from earlier losses of more than 8%, to trade up 0.5% at 215.9 yen per share.

The embattled company said it would speed up looking at whether it should sell a majority of its overseas nuclear power business, and that it would reduce the number of directors. Toshiba also said it would strengthen global management supervision and increase corporate involvement in risk monitoring at group companies.

Earlier, the Japanese conglomerate announced it would postpone earnings filings again due to the need for more time with auditors to review its U.S. nuclear subsidiary probe.

Machinery manufacturer Tsugami rose 5.2% to 774 yen a share, earlier hitting a 10-month high and rising 6%, after it announced that it would buy back up to two million of its shares, or 3.3% of total shares.

Australian shares were flat, as a National Australia Bank's monthly business survey of more than 400 firms showed that the index of business conditions fell seven points to +9 in February. All sectors except retail reported improved conditions last month.

South Korea's Kospi closed up, even as the country remains engulfed in political uncertainty after the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye last Friday.

Hyundai Engineering signed a deal with an Iranian investment fund on Sunday for a 3.2-billion-euro ($3.2 billion U.S.) petrochemical project, which is awaiting financing by Korean banks. Shares of Hyundai Engineering were down 0.4% at 48,150 won per stock.

The yen weakened against the U.S. dollar to 115.07, while the Australian dollar was at $0.7551 U.S.


In Shanghai, the CSI 300 docked 1.41 points to 3,456.69

China's January to February economic data painted a rosier picture of the world's second largest economy. Industrial output grew by 6.3% in the first two months of the year, from the same period a year before, fixed asset investment grew 8.9% on-year. Private investment rose by 6.7% from 3.2% in the same period last year.

But retail sales growth missed expectations, up just 9.5% in January and February on-year, lower than analysts' median forecast of a 10.5% increase.

Goldman Sachs upgraded China's stocks to overweight on Monday, saying that the increasing producer price index will translate to better corporate revenues and easing credit stress in the short-term. The investment bank also added that Chinese banks had brighter credit outlook and loan pricing

In other markets

The Kospi Index in Korea gained 16.19 points, or 0.8%, to 2,133.78

In Taiwan, the Taiex picked up 46.87 points, or 0.5%, to 9,744.21

In Singapore, the Straits Times Index doffed 3.75 points, or 0.1%, to 3,143.40

In New Zealand, the NZX 50 fell 17.69 points, or 0.3%, to 7,177.09

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 inched up 1.79 points to 5,759.14