Investing.com - Asian stock markets were mostly lower on Monday, as heightened tensions between Russia and Ukraine dampened demand for riskier assets.
During late Asian trade, Hong Kong''s Hang Seng dipped 0.35%, China’s Shanghai Composite dropped 1.55%, Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 closed 0.09% higher, while Japan’s Nikkei 225 ended down 0.98%.
Concerns over the conflict between Russian and Ukraine escalated last week after Ukrainian troops killed several pro-Russian rebels on Thursday. Russian troops, meanwhile, conducted military drills close to the border between the two countries, which frayed nerves even more.
In response, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry warned that Washington was ready to step up economic sanctions against Russia. The West is accusing Russia of leading a separatist revolt in eastern Ukraine after it annexed Crimea last month.
In Tokyo, the Nikkei fell to a more than one-week low as traders continued to monitor movements in the currency market. USD/JPY fell to a daily low of 102.03, easing off the previous session’s high of 102.48.
Honda (7267.TOK) saw shares tumble 4.5% after the automaker forecast lower than expected full-year profit.
Index heavyweight Fast Retailing (9983.TOK) saw shares slump 1.9% despite the release of data showing that March retail sales rose 11% year-on-year.
Elsewhere, shares in mainland China and Hong Kong edged lower amid ongoing concerns that a flurry of new initial public offering listings will lead to a share glut and hurt liquidity.
China Life Insurance (2628.HK) saw shares fall 2% in Hong Kong after the company posted a 28% decline in its first-quarter profit.
Elsewhere, in Australia, the ASX/200 Index inched higher in subdued trade as strong gains in gold miners boosted the benchmark index.
Newcrest Mining (NCM.ASX) rallied 4.8% while Perseus Mining (PRU.ASX) jumped 5.5%.
Looking ahead, European stock market futures pointed to a modestly higher open. The Euro Stoxx 50 futures pointed to a gain of 0.45%, France’s CAC 40 futures rose 0.4%, London’s FTSE 100 indicated a gain of 0.4%, while Germany''s DAX added 0.4%.
Across the Atlantic, U.S. equity markets also pointed to a firm open. The Dow 30 futures pointed to a gain of 0.3%, S&P 500 inched up 0.25%, while the Nasdaq 100 indicated a rise of 0.2%.
The U.S. is to release private sector data on pending home sales.