Asian Shares Retreat As Russia-Ukraine Tensions Escalate


Asian stocks retreated on Tuesday after Russia recognized two Ukrainian separatist regions – Donetsk and Luhansk – as sovereign states and ordered troops into the territory as “peacekeepers,” intensifying a crisis the West fears could unleash a major war.

U.S. and allies condemned the deployment of troops in Ukraine as a calculated act by President Vladimir Putin to create a pretext for invasion.

China’s Shanghai Composite Index fell 1 percent to 3,457.15 and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index plunged 2.7 percent to 23,520 amid fresh worries over Beijing’s regulatory plans for the tech sector.

Japanese shares fell for a fourth day due to an escalation in tensions around Ukraine. The Nikkei 225 Index tumbled 461.26 points, or 1.7 percent, to 26,449.61, while the broader Topix ended 1.6 percent lower at 1,881.08 ahead of a Wednesday’s public holiday.

Tech stocks suffered heavy losses, with Tokyo Electron, Advantest and Renesas plummeting 4-5 percent. Electronics maker Sharp plummeted 8.3 percent to extend losses from the previous session after changing its chief executive.

On the positive side, drugmaker Daiichi Sankyo jumped 9.6 percent after announcing positive results for the Erhertu cancer drug it co-developed with AstraZeneca.

Australian markets fell, with financials, miners and tech stocks leading losses amid mounting fears of a war in Ukraine. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index ended down 72.30 points, or 1.0 percent, at 7,161.30, after having hit a two-week low earlier in the day. The broader All Ordinaries Index closed 1.1 percent lower at 7,422.20.

The big four banks lost 1-2 percent, while mining heavyweights BHP and Rio Tinto dropped 0.9 percent and 1.4 percent, respectively. Tech stocks extended losses for the fourth consecutive session, with Xero, Wisetech Global and Block Inc. plunging 3-4 percent.

Gold Miner Newcrest rose 2.3 percent and Northern Star surged 4.6 percent after bullion prices hit a nearly nine-month high. Santos and Woodside Petroleum jumped 3-4 percent as oil prices hit a fresh seven-year high.

Seoul stocks retreated as investors kept a wary eye on the developments in Ukraine. The Kospi shed 37.01 points, or 1.4 percent, to finish at 2,706.79. Market bellwether Samsung Electronics and No. 2 chipmaker SK Hynix both fell over 1 percent, while leading chemical firm LG Chem slumped 4.2 percent.

New Zealand shares ended slightly lower ahead the Reserve Bank’s monetary policy announcement on Wednesday, with analysts expecting the central bank to deliver a third successive 25 basis point increase in the official cash rate.

The benchmark NZX 50 Index slipped 41.71 points, or 0.3 percent, to close at 12,114.63. Pacific Edge led losses to close 5.9 percent lower at a one-year low, while A2 Milk and Heartland Group Holdings fell around 3 percent each.

The U.S. markets were closed on Monday for President’s Day.

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