Markets in Asia finished mixed on Tuesday, following a similar close on Wall Street overnight, with steel producers swinging back to losses amid ongoing concerns over the effects of Donald Trump's proposed metals tariffs.
In Japan, the Nikkei 225 was up 0.66% at 21,968.10, as the yen weakened 0.73% against the dollar to last trade at JPY 107.20.

Among steel producers, both JFE Holdings and Nippon Steel were down 0.68% by end-of-play in Tokyo.

On the mainland, the Shanghai Composite lost 0.46% to 3,311.28, and the smaller, technology-heavy Shenzhen Composite was off 0.71% at 1,895.31.

South Korea's Kospi was ahead 0.42% at 2,494.49, while the Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong eked out gains of just 0.02% to settle at 31,601.45.

Steelmakers on the Korean peninsula were as affected as their regional peers by Trump-fuelled sentiment, with Dongkuk Steel falling 0.49% and Hyundai Steel off 1.53%.

Trump's punitive tariffs were back on the agenda, after some relief on Monday following suggestions the White House was working with Canberra to ensure Australian exports were not hit by the measures.

“We believe that steel products from South Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Thailand, South Africa, Australia, [the] UAE and Argentina are most at risk of displacement from the US market,” noted energy researchers at Wood Mackenzie.

“These countries are the least likely to be exempted from tariffs and their steel exports have the highest displacement potential.”

Oil prices were little changed, with Brent crude last down 0.06% at $64.91 per barrel, and West Texas Intermediate flat at $61.36.

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 was off 0.36% at 5,974.70, led lower by steel producers, with Bluescope Steel losing 1.51% and Rio Tinto down 1.96%.

The hefty financials subindex was also below the waterline, with AMP falling 0.74% and Westpac Banking Corporation slipping 0.2%.

In data, the National Australia Bank business survey suggested an improvement in operating conditions during February, with those surveyed showing increased sales and profits.

Across the Tasman Sea in New Zealand, the S&P/NZX 50 managed gains of 0.1% to close at 8,473.14, led higher by retirement housebuilder Summerset, which surged 5.6% by the close.

It was a mixed picture for the down under dollars against the greenback, with the Aussie last 0.07% weaker at AUD 1.2711 and the Kiwi strengthening 0.38% to NZD 1.3654.


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