By Colin Ng and Wei-Zhe Tan in Singapore and V. Phani Kumar in Hong Kong
Japanese and Australian stocks ended at their highest levels in several months Tuesday on upbeat corporate earnings, but South Korean and Indian shares fell on concerns about inflation and interest-rate increases.
The Nikkei Stock Average rose 0.4% to 10635.98, taking the Japanese stock benchmark to its best closing level in more than nine months. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 added 0.4% to 4890.36, stretching its winning streak to a fifth session and finishing at a level it hasn't seen since April.
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Most other regional markets declined. South Korea's Kospi fell 0.6% to 2069.70, Hong Kong's Hang Seng index slipped 0.3% to 23484.30, and India's Sensex shed 1.4% to 17775.70.
After the markets closed, China's central bank announced it will raise its key lending rates effective Wednesday. Markets in China are set to reopen Wednesday after being shut for the Lunar New Year holidays.
Some base-metal shares in the region rose after copper prices set a record high on the London Metals Exchange Monday before retreating. BHP Billiton added 0.9% and Rio Tinto /zigman2/quotes/202627887/composite RIO +0.79% climbed 1.7% in Sydney, Hindalco Industries rose 0.8% in Mumbai, and Aluminum Corp. of China /zigman2/quotes/208051344/composite ACH +1.23% added 1.2% in Hong Kong. Sumitomo Metal Mining /zigman2/quotes/205273301/delayed JP:5713 -0.42% rose 1.7% in Tokyo after the nonferrous-metals firm late Monday raised its earnings outlook for the fiscal year through March due to higher-than-expected prices of gold, copper and other metals.
But some energy producers lost ground on a fall in crude-oil prices in New York overnight. Cnooc dropped 2.1% in Hong Kong, Japan Petroleum Exploration /zigman2/quotes/201212147/delayed JP:1662 -1.14% shed 2.1% in Tokyo, and Cairn India gave up 1.3% in Mumbai.
Stocks in Tokyo and Sydney drew support from Monday's Wall Street rally driven by financial stocks. Australian lenders also were spurred by a bullish trading update from National Australia Bank /zigman2/quotes/210431826/delayed AU:NAB +0.04% , which gained 1.9%. Westpac Banking /zigman2/quotes/206661702/composite WBK -0.06% rose 1.1% and Commonwealth Bank of Australia /zigman2/quotes/200638713/delayed AU:CBA +1.08% climbed 0.8%.
In Tokyo, KDDI /zigman2/quotes/204923990/delayed JP:9433 +0.47% jumped 5.8% after Credit Suisse upgraded the stock to "outperform" from "neutral" on the performance of the company's smartphone business and a change of chief executive officer. Semiconductor-equipment maker Disco gained 2.8% after it announced strong third-quarter results Monday and revised up its fiscal-year operating-profit view to reflect recent strong orders. General contractor Kajima /zigman2/quotes/206026698/delayed JP:1812 -1.41% added 4.5% after reporting a 25% increase in nine-month net profit.
In Mumbai, the Sensitive Index fell to its lowest level since July as investors dumped stocks across sectors, fearing rising inflation may lead to further interest-rate increases. Concern about rising input costs pulled down most auto shares. Mahindra & Mahindra dropped 6%, while Tata Motors /zigman2/quotes/209145303/composite TTM -1.54% fell 2.9%.
In Seoul, fears of monetary-policy tightening hurt the market ahead of the Bank of Korea's policy-rate decision Friday. The central bank is widely expected to raise interest rates by 0.25 percentage point. Samsung Electronics dropped 1.1% and Hyundai Motor gave up 2.2%.
Write to Colin Ng at firstname.lastname@example.org