Asian stocks fell broadly on Tuesday as geopolitical tensions intensified and investors awaited the Federal Reserve minutes from the latest monetary policy meeting for directional cues.
Geopolitical tensions remained in focus after U.S. President Joe Biden made a surprise visit to Ukraine’s capital Kyiv and China’s top diplomat Wang Yi called for a negotiated settlement to the Ukraine war.
The dollar hovered near six-week highs, denting bullion’s appeal. Oil prices were down in Asian trading on fears that an economic slowdown would reduce fuel demand.
Chinese shares bucked the weak trend to end higher on optimism surrounding an economic rebound following years of COVID-19 curbs.
The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.5 percent to 3,306.52, a day after the country formalized rules for overseas IPOs.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index tumbled 1.7 percent to 20,529.49 ahead of the index review this week.
Japanese shares ended lower as a business survey showed manufacturing activity in the country contracted at the fastest pace in 30 months in February.
Traders also waited to hear from the government’s nominee for Bank of Japan Governor, who will testify before the lower house on Friday.
The Nikkei 225 Index slipped 0.2 percent to 27,473.10, while the broader Topix closed 0.1 percent lower at 1,997.46.
Retailers led losses, with J. Front Retailing and Takashimaya falling 2.9 percent and 2.6 percent, respectively. Among the top gainers, Yokohama Rubber and Nippon Paper Industries both surged around 5 percent.
Seoul stocks recovered from an early slide to finish slightly higher. The Kospi inched up 0.2 percent to 2,458.96, with LG Chem gaining 3 percent.
Australian markets ended on a subdued note as data showed business activity in the country shrank again in February. BHP’s disappointing half-year results and hawkish RBA minutes also dented investor sentiment.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index eased 0.2 percent to settle at 7,336.30, while the broader All Ordinaries Index closed 0.1 percent lower at 7,544.60.
Across the Tasman, New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX-50 Index ended down 0.8 percent at 11,801.49 ahead of Wednesday’s RBNZ interest rate decision.
The U.S. markets were closed on Monday for Presidents Day.
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