By V. Phani Kumar, Shri Navaratnam and Wei-Zhe Tan
HONG KONG (MarketWatch) -- Asian markets ended mixed Tuesday as an overnight rebound in crude-oil prices and on Wall Street helped support energy-sector stocks, while Japanese exporters lost ground as the yen strengthened against the euro.
Japan's Nikkei Stock Average of 225 companies fell 0.5%, Australia's S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.9%, and South Korea's Kospi added 0.6%.
China's Shanghai Composite gave up 0.7%, Taiwan's Taiex slipped 0.3% and Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index rose 0.3%.
Overnight, U.S. stocks advanced after a safe passage for the health-care legislation in the House of Representatives.
"Asian equity markets were unduly concerned about the U.S. health-care bill yesterday," said BBY Senior Institutional Trader Peter Copeland in Sydney. "There was some concern that the U.S. market would take a dim view of the reforms, but the reverse happened, so we have just unwound yesterday's fall."
In afternoon trading, India's Sensex rose 0.1%, while Singapore's Straits Times Index edged 0.3% higher.
Dow Jones Industrial Average /zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime DJIA +1.51% futures were 4 points lower in screen trade.
Exporters weighed on the Japanese market on the yen's strength, with companies exposed to Europe particularly hurt.
Mazda Motor /zigman2/quotes/206326885/composite MZDAY +1.23% /zigman2/quotes/204777714/delayed JP:7261 +0.97% shed 1.6%, Canon /zigman2/quotes/210242912/composite CAJ +4.80% /zigman2/quotes/207639533/delayed JP:7751 -1.35% gave up 0.7% and Nikon /zigman2/quotes/209396469/composite NINOY +3.88% /zigman2/quotes/203281219/delayed JP:7731 +0.42% lost 1.9%.
"Concerns about Greece's debt problems are persistent, and exporters with relatively high presence in Europe are underperforming," said Yutaka Miura, senior technical analyst at Mizuho Securities.
But Toshiba /zigman2/quotes/204149068/composite TOSYY -4.52% /zigman2/quotes/205628942/delayed JP:6502 +1.34% rose 3.6% with strong trading volumes on news the company and Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates will jointly lead an effort to develop a next-generation nuclear reactor that can operate for as long as 100 years without refueling.
Energy-sector shares advanced after crude-oil futures jumped back above the $81 a barrel level on Nymex overnight.
Woodside Petroleum /zigman2/quotes/203437212/delayed AU:WPL +0.87% /zigman2/quotes/206334215/composite WOPEY +1.86% climbed 1.5% and Santos climbed 1.2% in Sydney, with Inpex Corp. /zigman2/quotes/206689846/delayed JP:1605 +0.77% gaining 0.5% and Cnooc /zigman2/quotes/204964401/composite CEO +1.22% /zigman2/quotes/203421416/delayed HK:883 +0.54% rising 0.5% in Hong Kong, while Oil & Natural Gas Corp. added 0.8% and Cairn India jumped 2.7% in Mumbai trading.
Nymex April crude-oil futures fell 30 cents to $81.30 a barrel on Globex.
Referring to the gains in Sydney, BBY's Copeland said a lot of investors who recently positioned themselves for a double dip in the market were likely to unwind some of those positions as Wall Street remained resilient and most of the recent U.S. economic data were better than expected.
Arrow Energy shares fell 2.2% to 4.99 Australian dollars ($4.54) after investors gave up hope that Royal Dutch Shell and PetroChina would further increase their offer to buy the bulk of Arrow's Australian assets. Their original bid of A$4.45 a share was recently increased to A$4.70.