Asian stocks ended mixed on Monday as the Russia-Ukraine war dragged on and investors awaited the outcome of the Federal Reserve’s policy meeting this week for clues about further interest rate hikes and policy tightening for the rest of the year.
Chinese and Hong Kong markets succumbed to heavy selling pressure as the spreading new coronavirus outbreaks in China added to global uncertainties. Sentiment was also dented after data showed a sharp drop in February’s new bank lending in China.
China’s Shanghai Composite index tumbles 86.21 points, or 2.60 percent, to 3,223.53 while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index slumped 1,022.13 points, or 4.97 percent, to 19,531.66.
Japanese shares advanced as oil prices continued to retreat and investors remained optimistic about the Russia-Ukraine peace talks. The Nikkei average climbed 145.07 points, or 0.58 percent, to 25,307.85, while the broader Topix index ended 0.71 percent higher at 1,812.28.
Travel-related stocks surged after Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said over the weekend the government was preparing to restart the “GoTo Travel” subsidy program. Travel agency HIS jumped 7.5 percent and airline ANA Holdings added 2.9 percent.
Automakers Honda, Nissan and Toyota Motor rose 1-3 percent while chipmaking giant Tokyo Electron added 1.3 percent and peer Advantest surged 2.2 percent.
Banks Mitsubishi UFJ Financial and Mizhuo Financial gained 2-3 percent as higher long-term global bond yields improved the outlook for profits.
Australian stocks rose sharply, led by gains in financial and healthcare stocks. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index climbed 85.80 points, or 1.21 percent, to 7,149.40 while the broader All Ordinaries index ended up 82.90 points, or 1.13 percent, at 7,422.20.
Banks ANZ, Commonwealth and Westpac surged 2-3 percent while biotech firm CSL
advanced 2.6 percent. Commodity-linked shares underperformed as iron ore futures slumped and oil extended last week’s decline amid signs of rising COVID-19 cases in China.
Fuel supplier Ampol added 2.6 percent after selling its New Zealand unit Gull for NZ$572 million ($389.53 million).
Seoul stocks finished lower for a second straight session as investors turned risk-averse ahead of a slew of central bank meetings due this week. The Kospi average slipped 15.63 points, or 0.59 percent, to end at 2,645.65. Tech firms led losses while financial heavyweights such as KB Financial Group and Kakao Bank advanced.
New Zealand shares ended slightly lower as the government announced measures to reduce gasoline prices, possibly by temporarily lowering fuel taxes to counter a spike in prices caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index slipped 16.27 points, or 0.14 percent, to 11.805.11.
US stocks ended lower on Friday, as the US moved to sever normal ties with Russia, a measure on US consumer sentiment fell more than expected in early March and Ukraine’s top diplomat said he didn’t see progress in talks with Russia.
The Dow dropped 0.7 percent, the S&P 500 gave up 1.3 percent and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite index fell 2.2 percent.
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