Asian equity markets ended mixed on Tuesday in the absence of cues from US stock markets, which were closed overnight for a holiday. While a weaker yen, higher oil prices and some progress on Greek bailout deal lent support, gains were capped by lingering concerns about the looming French election and uncertainties over US fiscal and monetary policies. Japanese shares ended higher as comments from a Federal Reserve official that a rate increase next month is not ‘off the table at this point’ bolstered the dollar. Also, preliminary data from IHS Markit showed Japan's manufacturing activity expanded at the quickest pace in nearly three years in February, with output, new orders, employment all increasing at faster rates in the month. Chinese shares ended higher, the highest level in nearly three months, in the wake of reports that the first wave of pension funds are ready to be released into China's capital markets.
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