- Stocks in Japan and Hong Kong slipped on Monday as investors nervously awaited the West''s response to Crimea''s vote to break away from Ukraine and join Russia, which has drawn international condemnation.

Stock markets across Asia Pacific were mixed after the referendum Sunday in Crimea, the latest development in the volatile region, amid rising worries over another possible military incursion into Ukraine by Russia. Tensions there have weighed on global markets in recent weeks.

Japan''s Nikkei lost 0.4%, while Australia''s benchmark S&P ASX 200 shed 0.2% and South Korea''s Kospi gained less than 0.2%. In China, the Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong lost 0.4% and the Shanghai Composite was flat.

However, business proceeded in the region with Taiwanese insurer and a Chinese private-equity firm pledging to buy a big portion of Chinese lender Harbin Bank''s initial public offering, which is expected to raise around US$1 billion when it is launched Tuesday.

Fubon Life Insurance Co., an insurance unit of one of Taiwan''s biggest financial firms by assets, Fubon Financial Holding Co., and Citic Capital Holdings Ltd. are among seven cornerstone investors, and have committed to buying a total of 43% of the institutional tranche of Harbin Bank''s IPO, people familiar with the situation said Monday.

But the drops in Asia mirrored the mood on Wall Street Friday. At the close of U.S. trading last week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.27%, the S&P 500 index fell 0.28%, while the Nasdaq Composite index fell 0.35%. European indices, meanwhile, finished largely lower.

After the close of European trade on Friday, the EURO STOXX 50 fell 0.53%, France''s CAC 40 fell 0.80%, while Germany''s DAX 30 rose 0.43%. Meanwhile, in the U.K. the FTSE 100 fell 0.40%.

Investors were also looking at China after the People''s Bank of China said over the weekend that it has decided to widen the yuan''s daily trading band, allowing it to move up or down by 2% from the daily rate set by the central bank.

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