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Asian markets close higher as markets await political developments in Europe, London attack eyed

  • Asian markets make gains ahead of Brexit negotiations between the U.K. and the European Union
  • Wall Street closed mixed in the last session on the back of mixed economic data
  • Amazon announced it was buying Whole Foods

Asian bourses strengthened on Monday as markets geared up ahead of Brexit negotiations between the U.K. and the European Union and kept an eye on a deadly attack on worshipers leaving a mosque in London.

An incident involving a van driving into a crowd of people in the Finsbury Park Area of London is now being treated as a terrorist attack, Reuters said. One man has been reported dead while an individual has been detained by police. "Enquiries continue," the metropolitan police wrote in a notice on the incident.

This comes ahead of scheduled talks between negotiations between the European Union and the U.K. regarding Brexit arrangements due to begin later today. The British pound climbed slightly to trade at $1.2781, its highest level in more than a week, while the euro was mostly flat at $1.1200.

Symbol
Name
Price
 
Change
%Change
NIKKEI
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HSI
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ASX 200
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SHANGHAI
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KOSPI
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CNBC 100
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Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 index gained 0.62 percent or 124.49 points to close at 20,067.75 and South Korea's Kospi edged higher by 0.38 percent or 9.07 points to finish the session at 2,370.9.

Down Under, the S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.54 percent or 31.166 points to end at 5,805.2, on strength from its utilities and financials sub-indexes.

Markets in greater China were in the green, with Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index surging 1.11 percent at 3:00 p.m. HK/SIN. On the mainland, the Shanghai Composite added 0.7 percent or 21.8511 points to close at 3,145.0173 and the Shenzhen Composite rose 0.579 percent or 10.7977 points to end at 1,876.8499.

This followed the release of new home prices in China for May, which reflected that prices rose 10.4 percent on year compared to the 10.7 percent rise seen in April, Reuters said.

South Korean tech stocks mostly trended higher. Shares of Samsung Electronics closed 2.15 percent up and SK Hynix soared by 3.8 percent to close at 62,800 won a stock.

Nomura had maintained its "Buy" call on SK Hynix and raised its target price from 60,500 won a stock to 100,000 won a stock in a note from last Friday. This was due to the reduced risk of an oversupply in the memory market and better prospects for a Toshiba deal to be completed, said CW Chung, a research analyst at Nomura.

Shares of Singapore-listed commodity trader Noble Group soared nearly 10 percent earlier in the session after Reuters reported that its creditors had extended an important repayment deadline by four months. Shares of Noble Group were last higher by 12.31 percent.

The dollar fetched as much as 110.93 yen following the release of Japan trade data for the month of May, slightly higher than levels around 110.88 seen earlier. Dollar/yen last traded at 111.07.

Commonwealth Bank of Australia Currency Strategist Joseph Capurso told CNBC he saw further downside to dollar/yen in the coming months, heading to 108 yen to the dollar, driven by Japan's current account surplus.

The latest government data showed exports from Japan rose 14.9 percent on year compared to the 16.1 percent rise projected by a Reuters poll. Japan's trade balance, however, registered a deficit of 203.4 billion yen ($1.83 billion), compared to the 76 billion yen surplus expected.

The dollar was slightly firmer at 97.124 against a basket of rival currencies compared to levels around 97.115 seen in the previous session. The Australian dollar came under pressure in afternoon trade, falling to $0.7613 after fetching as much as $0.7629 earlier in the session.

Meanwhile, oil prices trended lower. Brent crude declined 0.36 percent to trade at $47.20 a barrel and U.S. crude shed 0.42 percent to trade at $44.55.

Hong Kong GDP for the first quarter is expected later in the day at 4:30 p.m. HK/SIN.

Stateside, markets closed mixed last week on the back of weaker-than-expected housing starts and consumer confidence data. Investors also digested news that Amazon would be buying supermarket chain Whole Foods.