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Asian Shares Slump On Inflation Fears

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Asian stocks tumbled on Monday amid anxiety over rising inflation and interest rates. Data showed China's export growth slowed to its lowest rate since June 2020 in April and imports flattened, highlighting downside risks to global growth stemming from the Ukraine war and the Shanghai lockdown.

Gold extended its slide, while the dollar held near a two-decade high and yields jumped amid expectations that the Federal Reserve may continue with aggressive rate hikes.

Oil prices fell about 1 percent in Asian trading as a tightening lockdown in Shanghai stoked concerns about a significant economic slowdown or "hard landing."

Chinese stocks fluctuated before finishing on a flat note after a survey showed lockdowns across dozens of Chinese cities hit operations and supply chains in the country. Hong Kong's stock exchange was closed for a public holiday.

Japan's Nikkei 225 Index plunged 2.5 percent to 26,319.34 on worries that the U.S. central bank may further tighten monetary policy to fight high inflation. Banks and tech stocks led losses. Market heavyweight SoftBank lost 3.5 percent and Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing plummeted 6.3 percent.

Japan's services sector activity expanded for the first time in four months in April, a survey showed earlier in the day. Separately, minutes of the Bank of Japan's March policy meeting revealed that board members called for measures to prevent an increase in long-term interest rates.

Seoul stocks fell sharply as global growth worries intensified against the backdrop of the Ukraine War and China's economic woes.

The Kospi ended 1.3 percent lower at 2,610.81, extending losses for the fifth consecutive session and marking its lowest close since November 30. LG Energy Solution, LG Chem and Samsung SDI sank 2-4 percent.

Australian stocks closed at their lowest level in nearly two months on concerns about rampant inflation and whether the Fed is doing enough to stamp it out.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index slid 1.2 percent to 7,120.70, marking a second straight session of losses. Miners led losses after a decrease in iron ore prices.

Energy stocks posted modest gains, while lender Westpac Banking Corp climbed 3.2 percent on an upbeat outlook.

New Zealand's NZX-50 Index tumbled 2 percent to 11,381.70, its lowest since August 12, 2020, with the focus on U.S. consumer inflation data due later in the week.

U.S. stocks fluctuated before closing mostly lower on Friday as rising oil prices and solid hiring data added to worries about the outlook for interest rates.

Data showed non-farm payroll employment surged by a better-than-expected 428,000 jobs in April, matching the revised jump seen in March. The jobless rate remained at a low 3.6 percent.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite tumbled 1.4 percent to hit its lowest closing level in well over a year and the S&P 500 slid 0.6 percent to nearly one-year closing low, while the Dow dipped 0.3 percent to a two-month closing low.

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