Asian Shares Tumble On Ukraine, Fed Concerns

stockmarkets jan18 14feb22 lt

Asian stocks fell broadly on Monday, with Russia-Ukraine tensions and the prospect of rapidly rising interest rates keeping investors nervous.

Geopolitical tensions ticked higher after the United States said Russia could invade Ukraine at any time and may create a surprise pretext for an attack.

A surge in global oil prices exacerbated concerns about inflation and monetary policy tightening in the Unites States and elsewhere.

China's Shanghai Composite Index fell 34.07 points, or 1 percent, to 3,428.88, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index ended down 350.09 points, or 1.4 percent, at 24,556.57.

Japanese shares lost the most in three weeks as risk aversion gripped investors. The Nikkei 225 Index plunged 616.49 points, or 2.2 percent, to 27,079.59, marking its biggest daily percentage drop since January 27 and touching below the 27,000 level for the first time since January 31. The broader Topix closed 1.6 percent lower at 1,930.65.

Tech majors as well as heavyweights such as SoftBank Group and Fast Retailing led losses, while oil explorers rose sharply, tracking higher crude prices. Tire maker Bridgestone was the worst performer in the Nikkei, closing down nearly 9 percent.

Australian markets bucked the weak trend to end slightly higher, as a jump in oil prices on fears of a possible invasion of Ukraine by top energy producer Russia helped lift energy stocks.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 26.60 points, or 0.4 percent, to 7,243.90 after having fallen 1 percent in the previous session. The broader All Ordinaries Index edged up 19.30 points, or 0.3 percent, to 7,535.10.

Woodside Petroleum and Santos surged around 4 percent as oil prices soared to their highest in more than seven years on supply worries. Beach Energy jumped 9.4 percent after its first-half earnings beat forecasts.

Gold miners also ended sharply higher after the precious metal touched a three-month high in the previous session.

Seoul stocks posted their biggest decline in 2-1/2 weeks due to concerns over rising inflationary risks and escalating tensions surrounding Ukraine. The Kospi slumped 43.23 points, or 1.6 percent, to 2,704.48.

Chip giant Samsung Electronics declined 1.6 percent, internet conglomerate Naver gave up 1.7 percent and battery maker LG Energy Solution lost 3.9 percent.

New Zealand shares fell sharply amid concerns about inflation and interest rates after data showed monthly food prices in the country rose the most in five years in January, driven by sharply higher fresh fruit and vegetable prices.

The benchmark NZX-50 Index tumbled 223.64 points, or 1.8 percent, to 11,950.14 as traders ramped up bets for a rate hike at next week's RBNZ meeting.

Retirement village operators, heavyweight Fisher and Paykel Healthcare and Sky City paced the decliners.

U.S. stocks fell sharply on Friday and oil prices surged as investors sought safety in Treasuries amid concerns about a potential Russian invasion of Ukraine. Any Americans still in Ukraine should leave "immediately," the White House said in the face of possible invasion within days.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite plunged 2.8 percent, while the Dow shed 1.4 percent and the S&P 500 declined 1.9 percent.

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