Stocks, currencies, China GDP, oil and earnings in focus
In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 edged up 0.06 percent, or 12.06 points, to close at 21,847.59 after trading both in and out of positive territory through the day. The broader Topix declined 0.36 percent, as the oil sector recorded gains amid declines seen in most other sectors.
Over in Seoul, the Kospi shed 0.15 percent to end at 2,453.77. Automakers and steelmakers climbed, while index bellwether Samsung Electronics slipped 0.72 percent.
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Mainland China markets underperformed. The Shanghai composite lost 1.39 percent to close lower for the fourth straight session at 3,067.52 and the Shenzhen composite fell 2.2 percent to 1,784.56.
China's economy grew 6.8 percent in the first quarter of 2018, beating an estimate of 6.7 percent on year growth projected in a Reuters poll.
"China's economy entered 2018 with solid growth momentum ... But momentum slowed in March, compared to the first two months, pointing to slower growth ahead," Louis Kuijs, head of Asia economics at Oxford Economics, said in a note.
Apart from the steady growth figure, other data released Tuesday was mixed. March retail sales came in better than expected, while industrial output growth for the month and fixed asset investment in the first quarter missed estimates.
MSCI's broad index of shares in Asia Pacific excluding Japan was last lower by 0.34 percent.
Tentative moves in the region came despite U.S. stocks closing higher in the last session as investors shifted their attention from geopolitical tensions to strong corporate earnings releases.
Expectations for earnings season stateside are high, with first-quarter results projected to rise 18.6 percent compared to one year ago, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S data.
Trade tensions also continued to simmer, having taken a backseat in recent sessions.
The U.S. Department of Commerce imposed a denial of export privileges against China's ZTE, a telecommunications equipment company. The ban stops U.S. companies from selling to ZTE for seven years, Reuters reported, and comes after the Chinese firm failed to adhere to an agreement with the U.S. government after it illegally shipped equipment to Iran and North Korea, U.S. officials said.
ZTE shares in Hong Kong and Shenzhen were halted from trade on Tuesday, pending an announcement.
In individual movers, Hyundai Motor closed up 2.94 percent. The advance came amid Reuters headlines that a unit of Elliott Management, which owns more than $1 billion in shares of Hyundai affiliates, was supportive of the automaker's reorganization plans.
Meanwhile, the dollar eased further against a basket of currencies after investor confidence firmed overnight, with the dollar index last at 89.296.
The greenback extended losses against the yen, trading at 106.92 at 3:07 p.m. HK/SIN, compared to levels above the 107.1 handle seen earlier in the session.
Of note, the pound rose as high as $1.4372 during the session, the currency's strongest levels since Brexit.
On the commodities front, oil prices were moderately higher after Monday's fall. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures added 0.63 percent to trade at $66.64 per barrel and Brent crude futures edged up 0.48 percent to $71.77.
— CNBC's Huileng Tan contributed to this report.
Europe finishes on a high note as strong earnings give stocks a boost
Across the board, major bourses finished higher, with Germany's DAX soaring 1.57 percent, while the U.K.'s FTSE 100 popped 0.39 percent and France's CAC 40 rose 0.76 percent.
Markets in the region received a boost in afternoon trade from a strong start to Wall Street's session, where the Dow soared 250 points around Europe's close. Markets in Asia closed in the red.
Genmab shares soar
Household goods, however, ended Tuesday in the red, the only sector to do so. Drug giant Reckitt Benckiser slumped towards the bottom of the European benchmark, off 3.2 percent, after Credit Suisse downgraded its rating on the stock to "underperform" from "neutral."
Looking at individual stocks, Genmab surged to the top of the index after reporting higher than expected sales of the drug Darzalex in the first quarter. Shares of Genmab jumped 8.74 percent by the close.
Sweden's Intrum Justitia soared 8 percent after it reportedly filed a binding bid for Intesa Sanpaolo's debt collection unit. The deal, which is set to be reviewed by the Italian bank on Tuesday, could rid the lender of around $13 billion of bad debt. Shares of the Italian lender closed up almost 1 percent.
Elsewhere, Associated British Foods rose over 4 percent after reporting its latest earnings, which saw the company maintain its full-year outlook.
On the data front, a survey showed the mood among German investors collapsed in April, reflecting the escalating unease about Europe's largest economy potentially finding itself vulnerable to an ongoing trade dispute between the U.S. and China.
Germany's ZEW research institute said its monthly survey found economic sentiment among investors slumped for the third straight month to -8.2 — the lowest level since November 2012.
In currency news, on Tuesday Britain's sterling reached its highest level since the country voted to leave the European Union in June 2016. During the session, sterling rose as high as $1.4376, before settling down at $1.4301 at Europe's close.
Dow rallies more than 200 points, Netflix surges to record close
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 213.59 points to 24,786.63, with UnitedHealth helping lead the index higher. The S&P 500 gained 1.1 percent to 2,706.38, as consumer discretionary and tech gained 1.9 percent and 2 percent, respectively. The Nasdaq composite advanced 1.7 percent to 7,281.10 as shares of Netflix jumped 9.2 percent to a record high.
Netflix was the best performer in the S&P 500 after reporting in-line quarterly earnings and higher-than-expected subscriber growth.
"The fact that Netflix is reacting so well to earnings helps the market," said Tom Martin, senior portfolio manager at Globalt. "Netflix is a bellwether stock."
UnitedHealth shares rose 3.6 percent after it reported better-than-expected earnings and raised its outlook for 2018.
Goldman Sachs posted better-than-expected earnings and revenue for the first quarter, boosted by a 38 percent jump in equities trading revenue. However, the stock fell 1.7 percent after opening higher.
Johnson & Johnson posted a profit that surpassed estimates, boosted by a strong performance by its pharmaceuticals segment. Johnson & Johnson jumped at the open but slipped to close 0.9 percent lower.
"The Q1 earnings season has started solidly," said Jeremy Klein, chief market strategist at FBN Securities. "Corporate executives have not only easily beaten extremely aggressive top and bottom line estimates in aggregate but have also spoken effusively about their business prospects. Nothing matters more for the health of the rally than the ability of companies to churn out profits."
Wall Street has high expectations for this earnings season, with analysts forecasting a 17.3 percent increase in first-quarter earnings, according to FactSet.
The moves Tuesday come after a strong Wall Street finish on Monday, with the Dow closing up more than 200 points. U.S. markets received a boost Monday, as fears of an escalating conflict in Syria eased temporarily.
Last weekend, the U.S. military conducted missile strikes against the Syrian government, in response to a suspected chemical attack that took place in the Middle Eastern country. The strike carried out by the U.S. was done in collaboration with Britain and France.
On the economic data front, housing starts rebounded in March, totaling 1.319 million versus a Reuters estimate of 1.262 million