TOKYO (AP) — Shares fell Monday in Asia as investors remained wary of mounting violence in Ukraine, while awaiting a raft of financial indicators due later in the week.
Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 stock index fell 1.2 percent to 14,257.37, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index was 0.4 percent lower at22,142.16. Shares in New Zealand, Taiwan, China, India and Singapore also fell, though South Korea's Kospi added 0.2 percent to 1,975.68 and Australia's S&P ASX 200 gained 0.1 percent to 5,534.30.
The U.S. was preparing to levy fresh sanctions against Russia for Moscow's failure to uphold terms of an agreement with the U.S., the European Union and Ukraine that calls for Moscow to withdraw Russian forces from the border with Ukraine and encourage pro-Russian separatists to turn over buildings they're occupying in eastern Ukraine.
Meanwhile, pro-Russian militants turned to kidnapping, taking dozens hostage, including journalists, pro-Ukraine activists and European military observers. "The Ukrainian tensions are once again mounting and the word coming from Capitol Hill and also Europe is that sanctions on Russian officials will be harder, more direct and onerous on President Putin's inner circle; this will disrupt normal trading conditions," Melbourne, Australia-based, IG market strategic Evan Lucas said in a trading note.
The geopolitical tensions mean "Asia is starting the week on the back foot," he said. Adding to those uncertainties are a slew of end-of-month data due this week from Japan, the U.S. and China. Worried investors have been shifting from riskier assets into traditional havens like bonds, gold and mainstay equities like utilities, sapping markets of their earlier upward momentum. U.S. shares fell sharply Friday, with the Dow Jones industrial average down 0.9 percent at 16,361.46 and the broader Standard & Poor's 500 off 0.8 percent at 1,863.40.
European shares also fell Friday, as the FTSE dropped 0.3 percent to 6,685.69 and Germany's DAX lost 1.5 percent to 9,401.55. France's CAC shed 0.8 percent to 4,443.63. In other markets, the euro was trading at $1.3823, compared with Friday's close of $1.3834. The Japanese yen was almost unchanged at 102.07 to the dollar, compared with 102.15 late Friday.
Oil gained 47 cents to $101.07 electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange amid concern about the tensions in Ukraine and the potential impact of additional sanctions on Russia's energy exports.