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Asia Markets Close Higher as Europe Remains Lower

South Korean markets carved out slight gains.South Korean markets carved out slight gains.

Asian indexes closed mostly higher in the first trading session of the new year as markets shrugged off the softer lead from Wall Street, while European markets were lower on Tuesday morning. Greater China markets shone, with Hong Kong's benchmark index climbing to its highest levels in more than 10 years in the session while the dollar struggled near its lowest levels in three months.

In Sydney, the S&P/ASX 200 slipped below the flat line to close lower by 0.06% at 6,061.3. Gains in the telecommunications and resources sectors were offset by declines in the health care and heavily-weighted financials sub-indexes, which closed lower by 0.56% and 0.23%, respectively, CNBC reported.

Gold producer stocks rose 1.19% as the yellow metal traded at three-month highs. Kingsgate rose 5% and Newcrest added 1.14% by the end of the day.

Elsewhere, South Korean markets carved out slight gains following geopolitical developments regarding North Korea in the past week. The benchmark Kospi index tacked on 0.49% to close at 2,479.65 as technology stocks mostly gained while automakers fell.

Heavyweights Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix inched higher by 0.12% and 0.13%, respectively, while Hyundai Motors declined 4.17% on the day.

Meanwhile, European markets were lower on Tuesday morning, as investors reacted to surprisingly upbeat economic data in China. The pan-European Stoxx 600 was 0.3% lower during early morning deals, with most sectors and major bourses in negative territory.

Auto stocks were the worst performers on Tuesday morning, down more than 1.4% shortly after the opening bell. Ferrari and Fiat Chrysler led the sector's losses, both falling more than 2.5% in early trade. Shares of Ferrari were temporarily suspended from trade before resuming.

Looking at individual stocks, Steinhoff International surged to the top of the European benchmark on Tuesday. The South African retailer said it is continuing to work with external auditors to conclude the probe into its 2017 results and would also consider restating other prior years' results. The embattled firm was more than 9% higher in early morning deals.

Vestas Wind was also trading higher on Tuesday, up more than 3% after Sydbank upgraded its outlook on the Danish wind power company to "buy" from "hold".

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