Asian shares mixed after fresh Wall Street losses

Asia's markets were mixed today following another heavy sell-off on Wall Street while concerns over the crisis in Ukraine resurfaced.

Investors are also awaiting the release this week of first-quarter growth data from China, with analysts tipping a further slowdown in the world's number two economy.

Tokyo ended 0.36% lower, giving up 49.89 points to 13,910.16, while Sydney shed 1.28%, or 69.7 points, to 5,358.9, marking its heaviest fall in four weeks. Seoul was flat, dipping 0.42 points to 1,997.02.

Hong Kong closed 0.15% higher, adding 35.16 points to 23,038.80 while Shanghai ended flat, edging up 1.00 point, to 2,131.54.

US shares continued their downward spiral Friday led by the technology sector, owing to fears big-name firms such as Facebook, Twitter and Netflix may be overpriced.

The Nasdaq sank 1.34% to its lowest close since February 3, the Dow tumbled 0.89% and the S&P 500 shed 0.95%.

Analysts said there was also some nervousness as the corporate reporting season gets under way.

Adding downward pressure on markets is the crisis over Ukraine after clashes erupted between government forces and pro-Moscow militias.

Russia and the West traded barbs yesterday at the United Nations, with the Kremlin accusing the pro-Western interim government in Kiev of fomenting violence.

Britain, France and the United States blame Russia as fears grow that it is planning to send troops in to the east of Ukraine, in a move similar to that which saw it take over Crimea last month.

Closer to home for Asian investors, eyes this week are on Wednesday's release of Chinese gross domestic product figures for January-March.

A survey of 13 economists by AFP saw a median forecast of 7.3% growth in the period, which would mark the fourth slowdown in the past five quarters, and put China on track for its worst annual performance since 1990.

Traders are increasingly worried about the Chinese economy, a key driver of global growth, following a string of weak data including on manufacturing and trade.

Some analysts say China's leaders will soon unveil stimulus measures to get the economy back up to speed. H

owever, others suggest Beijing is happy to endure some initial pain as it looks to transform the growth model from one driven by exports and government investment.

On currency markets the dollar was at 101.60 yen today afternoon compared with 101.65 yen in New York Friday afternoon.

The euro bought US$1.3845 and 140.68 yen, down from US$1.3882 and 141.11 yen.

Oil prices edged up. US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for May delivery gained 67 cents to US$104.41 per barrel in afternoon trade while Brent North Sea crude for May rose 94 cents to US$108.27.

Gold fetched US$1,326.40 an ounce at 4pm, from US$1,320.08 late Friday.

In other markets, Taipei fell 0.57%, or 50.63 points, to 8,857.42; Wellington fell 0.55%, or 27.89 points, to 5,063.54 and Manila slipped 0.11%, or 7.41 points, to 6,589.55.

Bangkok and Mumbai were closed for public holidays. – AFP, April 14, 2014.


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