Asia Stocks End Mixed

Asian stock markets ended mixed on Tuesday, after Wall Street gave up gains and as investors look forward to the release of U.S. inflation data later in the day.

But major steel producers in the region suffered losses on expectations that they would be hit by President Donald Trump's tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 progressed 144.07 points, or 0.7%, to 21,968.10, alternating between being in the red and green, despite fresh developments in a cronyism scandal that could hit Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government. Within the steel sector, JFE Holdings and Nippon Steel eased 0.7% each.

The yen fell after holding firm earlier in the day. The Japanese currency traded at 106.84 per U.S. dollar

The Hang Seng Index inched ahead 7.12 points to 31,601.45

In Korea, stocks crossed into the green after steel player Posco recoup earlier losses to gain 0.1%. Other steel stocks such as Dongkuk Steel declined 0.5%, however, and Hyundai Steel slumped 1.5%.

Australian shares eased, with Bluescope Steel down 1.5% and Rio Tinto at 2% lower by Tuesday's close. Financials also lost ground as a probe into bank misconduct starts Tuesday; AMP lost 0.7% while Westpac crept down 0.2%.

The NAB business survey found that operating conditions in the country had improved in February, with sales and profits increasing sharply.

The Australian dollar was against the U.S. dollar, trading at $0.7876 in the late afternoon

CHINA

The CSI 300 dropped 36.42 points, or 0.9%, to 4,091.25

China said Tuesday it will merge its banking and insurance regulatorsto streamline and tighten oversight of the financial system.

Chinese banks rallied, with Agricultural Bank of China (ABC) surging close to 5% in Hong Kong and 2.5% in mainland China. ABC, the third-largest bank in China and globally, announced on Monday it would raise as much as 100 billion yuan ($15.8 billion U.S.) in a private placement. China's Ministry of Finance would be one of its backers.

In other markets

In Taiwan, the Taiex climbed 93.53 points, or 0.9%, to 11,095.63

In Korea, the Kospi gained 10.37 points, or 0.4%, to 2,494.49

In Singapore, the Straits Times Index picked up 13.54 points, or 0.4%, to 3,553.73

In New Zealand, the NZX 50 nicked up 9.15 points, or 0.1%, to 8,473.14

The ASX 200 let go of 21.41 points, or 0.4%, to 5,974.71