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Asia markets mixed, Australia touches 6-year high

HONG KONG - Asian stocks were mixed Tuesday, with Australia's benchmark briefly touching a six-year high while other markets lacked a clear focus as investors stayed on the sidelines ahead of a number of economic data reports later this week.

Australia's S&P ASX 200 rose to 5,554.50 early in the session, the highest since June 2008, before turning tail and tumbling into negative territory. It was 1 percent lower at 5,486.21 by late afternoon.

The movement in Australia followed a day of choppy trading on Wall Street, where stocks rose, fell and then rose again in the final hour of trading. Trading was also thin in Asia because markets were closed for a holiday in regional heavyweight Japan.

Investors were holding back ahead of a few key economic events.

Markets "are positioning in time for this week's high risk events," said Desmond Chua, market analyst at CMC Markets in Singapore. "Starting tomorrow we're going to see a so-called escalation of events starting from least important to most important."

On Wednesday, the U.S. Federal Reserve wraps up its two-day meeting, at which point policymakers, who are expected to further trim the central bank's bond-buying program, could provide further insight into the state of the world's biggest economy. Further U.S. data reports come on Thursday, when preliminary economic data for the first quarter is released, and Friday, with payroll data. Also out Thursday is China manufacturing data for April, which will provide an update on conditions in the world's No. 2 economy.

South Korea's Kospi slipped 0.2 percent to 1,964.77 while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index was up 0.3 percent to 22,202.77. The Shanghai Composite index in mainland China climbed 0.6 percent to 2,016.03.

On Wall Street, the Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 0.3 percent to close at 1,869.43. The Dow rose 0.5 percent to 16,448.74 and the Nasdaq edged down less than 0.1 percent, to 4,074.40.

In currencies, the euro rose to $1.3865 from $1.3854 in late trading Monday. The dollar rose to 102.54 Japanese yen from 102.51.

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