Hong Kong, Japan drop more than 2% as Asia stocks slide; investors monitor Ukraine-Russia updates

Hong Kong, Japan drop more than 2% as Asia stocks slide; investors monitor Ukraine-Russia updates

SINGAPORE — Shares in Asia-Pacific slipped in Friday trade as investors remain on edge over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The Nikkei 225 in Japan slipped 2.47% while the Topix index shed 1.99%.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index also saw heavy losses as it fell 2.51%. In mainland China, the Shanghai composite shed 0.93% while the Shenzhen component dipped 0.644%.

South Korea’s Kospi dipped 1.26%.

Over in Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 shed 1.39%.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan traded 1.49% lower.

The major indexes in Asia-Pacific extended losses Friday after reports that smoke was visible from a nuclear power plant in Ukraine — the largest in Europe — after Russian troops attacked. The situation in Ukraine is rapidly deteriorating, and reports from the country are difficult to confirm.

“Risk sentiment remains fragile and is very much being swung around by Russia/Ukraine headlines as well by central banks who seem committed to hiking rates, and who are also noting upside risks to inflation,” Tapas Strickland, an economist at National Australia Bank, wrote in a note.

Investors also continued to monitor oil prices, which have surged in recent days. In the morning of Asia trading hours on Friday, international benchmark Brent crude futures gained 2.37% to $113.08 per barrel. U.S. crude futures also advanced 3.09% to $111 per barrel.

Oil prices saw a pullback on Thursday after days of rising rapidly, with U.S. crude futures at one point surging to a level last seen in Sept. 2008. International benchmark Brent crude futures currently sit at $110.4 per barrel after recently rising to as high as $119.84, the highest level since May 2012.

Overnight stateside, The Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 96.69 points to 33,794.66 while the S&P 500 dipped about 0.53% to 4,363.49. The Nasdaq Composite dropped 1.56% to 13,537.94.

Currencies

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 97.983 after recently rising from below 97.5.

The Japanese yen traded at 115.36 per dollar, weaker than levels below 115 seen against the greenback earlier in the week. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7316 following its general rise from levels below $0.721 earlier this week.

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