Asian Shares Mixed As War In Ukraine Rages On

Asian stocks ended mixed on Friday after reports suggested Russian forces have been repositioning with a goal of focusing on securing the separatist republics in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region. Disappointing economic data from China and Japan also clouded the outlook for already fragile global growth.

The dollar extended a rebound versus major peers as investors awaited the March U.S. jobs data due out later in the day for cues on inflation and the Fed’s policy stance.

Oil extended overnight losses after U.S. President Joe Biden ordered the release of up to 1 million barrels of oil per day from the nation’s strategic petroleum reserve.

Chinese shares rose sharply despite rising Covid-19 cases in the country and the release of disappointing manufacturing data. The Caixin China purchasing managers index slipped to 48.1 in March from February’s 50.4, hitting its lowest level since February 2020.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index climbed 0.9 percent to finish at 3,282.72, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index edged up 0.2 percent to settle at 22,039.55. Trading was halted in 33 Hong Kong-listed firms after they failed to report annual results.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index closed 0.6 percent lower at 27,665.98 after the Tankan survey, carried out by the Bank of Japan, showed sentiment at Japan’s large manufacturers soured in the three months to March.

Chip-related stocks and heavyweight Fast Retailing led losses as investors continued to take profits after sharp gains last month. Electronics and energy giant Toshiba jumped 6.5 percent after its largest shareholder spurred speculation of a takeover bid by U.S. private equity firm Bain Capital.

Australian markets fluctuated before closing marginally lower for the day amid concerns surrounding the Ukraine conflict and rising inflationary pressures. Banks and technology stocks led losses, while miners benefited from a rise in iron ore prices.

Seoul stocks retreated after data showed factory activity growth in the country slowed in March. The Kospi dropped 0.7 percent to 2,739.85, snapping a three-day winning streak. Samsung Electronics, Samsung Biologics, Naver, SK Hynix and LG Energy Solution lost 1-3 percent.

New Zealand’s benchmark NZX-50 Index slipped 0.2 percent to close at 12,089.43 after Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, in his nighttime video address to the nation, said that the expected the Russian offensive would continue for some time. Airline Air New Zealand extended losses to end 1.9 percent lower amid its mammoth capital raise.

U.S. stocks tumbled overnight to wrap up their first losing quarter since the first quarter of 2020 as Chinese manufacturing data disappointed, the Fed’s preferred inflation gauge reached a new 40-year peak in February and Russian shelling around Ukraine’s capital shook hopes for progress in peace talks.

The Dow and the S&P 500 both lost around 1.6 percent, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite gave up 1.5 percent.

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