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Asia stocks advance

Asian stocks posted modest gains on Tuesday as fresh Chinese data provided signs of improving conditions for the world's second largest economy.

Chinese producer deflation eased more than expected to its slowest decline in nearly two years, fuelling hopes the end of a painful slowdown could be in sight for the Asian powerhouse which is a key driver of the global economy.

Shanghai advanced 0.3 percent after the producer price index, which measures the cost of goods at the factory gate, fell 1.7 percent year-on-year in July, better than expectations of a 2.0 decline in a Bloomberg News poll of economists and much narrower than the 2.6 percent fall in June.

Protracted declines in PPI bode ill for industrial prospects as customers seek to delay purchases in anticipation of lower prices in future, starving companies of business and funds.

Tokyo ticked up 0.5 percent after starting in negative territory.
   
The dollar edged down to 102.36 yen from 102.45 yen Monday in New York, but was well up from below the 101-level seen last week.
   
Japanese exporters benefit from a weaker yen as it inflates the value of their overseas profits.
   
Sydney added 0.2 percent and Seoul gained 0.6 percent while Hong Kong fell 0.2 percent.
   
Traders were generally cautious after US markets retreated from record highs, but some energy stocks got a lift after oil prices rose overnight as OPEC said it would hold an informal meeting in Algeria next month -- potentially signalling a more aggressive stance on low oil prices.
   
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries said a meeting would take place on the sidelines of the International Energy Forum in Algeria from September 26 to 28, ahead of a planned meeting due at the end of November.
   
"US markets pulled back from all-time highs overnight despite European markets continuing to push higher ... But the main global macro story at the moment is the ongoing resurgence in the commodity complex," Angus Nicholson, a strategist at IG Markets Ltd. in Melbourne, said in an email commentary.
   
"The negative close in US equities has not provided a strong lead for the Asian session. But the materials and energy sector look set for a strong day."
   
In Asian trade, oil prices retreated. West Texas Intermediate was down 36 cents to $42.66 while Brent lost 41 cents to $44.98.
   
Prices have been fluctuating since entering a "bear" market last week, falling more than 20 percent and closing below $40 a barrel for the first time since April.
   
Oil-linked shares were higher, with Hong Kong-listed CNOOC and PetroChina among those recording gains. In Tokyo, energy exporter Inpex added 3.1 percent.
   
Sydney-listed Rio Tinto ticked up 1.3 percent, while Santos and Oil Search were also higher.