Asia Markets

Asian stocks lower on geopolitical risks; Japan shut


Asian stocks ended Monday mostly lower due to ongoing geopolitical tensions while volumes were light with Japan shut for a public holiday.

Developments over the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 continue to be in focus. The United Nations is considering a resolution to demand that armed groups in Ukraine allow international investigators access to the crash site. A vote may come as early as Monday.

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Meanwhile, Sunday was one of the bloodiest days in the two-week Israeli offensive in Gaza. Despite heavy casualties, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that military operations could be expanded.

"With new U.S. sanctions on Russian firms, the downing of a airliner in Ukraine and greater fears of Middle East unrest, markets have been spooked with risk positions pared back. And with fairly light economic data/events early week, we think that geopolitics warrant close watching," said Mizuho Bank in a note.

China shares lower

Shanghai stocks slipped 0.2 percent on worries of tight liquidity. Eleven of the twelve initial public offerings (IPOs) approved last week are expected to start taking subscriptions later this week, which could weigh on existing funds.

China Eastern Airlines lost over 1 percent after warning of an annual profit decline in the January-June period.

Hong Kong's benchmark Hang Seng Index posted modest losses in quiet trade.

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ASX up 0.1%

Australia's benchmark extended gains into a third straight session but still remained off last week's six-year peak of 5,561 points. Meanwhile, the Australian dollar traded within sight of 94 U.S. cents.

Copper prices traded near a three-week low, which weighed on miners. Rio Tinto led losses by 1 percent while and Fortescue Metals and BHP Billiton eased 0.4 percent each.

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Kospi flat

South Korean shares reversed gains after briefly rising to their highest levels since December earlier in the session.

Hana Financial rose 1.2 percent after reporting a 73.6 percent rise in net profit, and that sparked optimism in the banking sector. Fellow lender Shinhan Financial also jumped over 1 percent.

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Emerging markets mixed

Indonesia's benchmark Jakarta Composite rallied nearly 1 percent ahead of the presidential election outcome, due on Tuesday.

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Malaysian shares ended flat after closing at a one-month low last week while shares of Malaysia Airlines was also flat following Friday's 11 percent slide.