Investing.com

Investing.com - Asian stock markets were mixed in choppy trade on Tuesday, as investors digested a pair of conflicting reports on China’s manufacturing sector.



During late Asian trade, Hong Kong''s Hang Seng rose 0.9%, China’s Shanghai Composite inched up 0.49%, Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 closed 0.1% lower, while Japan’s Nikkei 225 ended down 0.24%.



Asia was given a positive lead from the U.S., where markets ended higher after Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen reiterated that the central bank’s commitment to economic stimulus will still be needed for some time.



Meanwhile, data released earlier showed that China’s final HSBC Purchasing Managers Index ticked down to an 18-month low of 48.0 in March from a final reading of 48.5 in February.



The report came after China’s official manufacturing purchasing managers’ index inched up to 50.3 in March from 50.2 in February.



Shares in mainland China and Hong Kong edged higher amid ongoing indications that China’s government is prepared to do more to shore up the cooling economy.



Evergrande Real Estate Group (3333.HK) rallied 5.7% in Hong Kong after the firm reported better than expected full-year earnings.



Meanwhile, in Tokyo, the Nikkei ended modestly lower as sentiment was cautious after a rise in the country''s sales tax to 8% from 5% kicked in.



Retailers were lower as many experts say the tax hike will take a hit on consumer spending. Takashimaya (8233.TOK) lost 2.1%, while Aeon (8267.TOK) and Fast Retailing (9983.TOK) declined 1.4% and 1.2% respectively.



Sentiment was also weighed after the Bank of Japan''s first quarter Tankan business survey that showed sentiment among major manufacturers came in largely as expected at a gain of 17 in March, up from an increase of 16 in December.



However, business investment plans by all firms for fiscal 2014 are projected to fall 4.2% from fiscal 2013, when capex plans are estimated to have risen 5.2%.



Elsewhere, in Australia, the ASX/200 Index ended lower after the Reserve Bank of Australia held its benchmark interest rate at a record low of 2.5% earlier in the session, in a widely expected decision.



The central bank reiterated that a prudent course looking forward would be "a period of stability in interest rates."



Looking ahead, European stock market futures pointed to a modestly higher open. The Euro Stoxx 50 futures pointed to a gain of 0.1%, France’s CAC 40 futures rose 0.3%, London’s FTSE 100 futures indicated a gain of 0.45%, while Germany''s DAX futures added 0.35%.



The euro zone is to release data on the unemployment rate. Germany is release data on the change in the number of people unemployed, while Spain and Italy are to release reports on manufacturing activity.



Across the Atlantic, U.S. equity markets pointed to a steady open. The Dow Jones futures pointed to a gain of 0.05%, S&P 500 futures inched up 0.06%, while the Nasdaq 100 futures indicated a decline of 0.05%.



Later Tuesday, the Institute of Supply Management is to publish a report on U.S. manufacturing growth.



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