Asian stocks ended on a muted note Tuesday as investors refrained from making big bets ahead of key central bank meetings and the rapidly approaching deadline for more U.S. tariffs on Chinese imports.
Chinese shares ended on a flat note after data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed China's consumer price inflation accelerated to the highest since early 2012 in November. Another report from NBS showed that producer prices declined for the fifth consecutive month in November.
The benchmark Shanghai Composite index ended up 2.84 points at 2,917.32 while Hong Kong's Hang Seng index edged down 0.22 percent to 26,436.62.
China's consumer price inflation rose more-than-expected to 4.5 percent in November from 3.8 percent in October as disruption to pork supply pushed up food inflation. This was the highest since January 2012.
Producer prices were down 1.4 percent annually but slower than the 1.6 percent decrease seen in the previous month.
Japanese shares finished marginally lower amid uncertainty ahead of the U.S. tariff deadline on Chinese imports. The Nikkei average and the broader Topix index both ended little changed with negative bias at 23,410.19 and 1,720.77, respectively. Industrial and consumer discretionary sectors paced the declines.
Australian markets retreated as investors anxiously waited to see whether a new round of tariffs on Chinese consumer goods takes effect next week.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index slid 23.10 points, or 0.34 percent, to 6,706.90 while the broader All Ordinaries index ended down 24.30 points, or 0.36 percent, at 6,812.10.
Miners BHP, Fortescue Metals Group and Rio Tinto rose over 1 percent after iron ore prices jumped overnight.
Lender National Australia Bank declined 1.5 percent as Morgan Stanley retained its underweight rating and cut its price target on the stock.
IOOF Holdings edged up 0.6 percent after the wealth manager issued an update on its OnePath acquisition.
Petroleum retailer Viva Energy Group tumbled 2.8 percent to extend steep declines from the previous session after warning it expects fiscal 2019 underlying net profit to fall by up to 41 percent due to weak refining margins.
Australia's business confidence declined in November, unwinding the increase seen in previous month, while business conditions remained unchanged, survey data from National Australia Bank showed today.
Seoul stocks ended on a firmer note, with the benchmark Kospi ending up 0.45 percent at 2,098 after data showed China's consumer inflation climbed to an eight-year peak.
New Zealand shares drifted lower, with the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rising by 54.63 points, or 0.49 percent, to 11,284.22. Shares of diary giant A2 Milk Company rallied 2.4 percent, after having tumbled 3.6 percent the previous day following the resignation of its chief executive.
U.S. stocks fell modestly overnight to snap a three-day winning run ahead of monetary policy updates from the Fed and the ECB as well as the looming Dec. 15 deadline for new tariffs on China.
Rising tensions between the United States and North Korea also weighed on markets after North Korea conducted a "very important test" at a long-range missile launch site.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite shed around 0.4 percent while the S&P 500 eased 0.3 percent.