Japan’s Nikkei 225 falls 2% as Asia-Pacific stocks slip; China’s April trade data ahead

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SINGAPORE — Shares in Asia-Pacific declined in Monday morning trade as investors look ahead to the release of Chinese trade data for April.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 fell 1.22% in early trade as shares of conglomerate SoftBank Group dropped more than 2%. The Topix index shed 0.89%.

South Korea’s Kospi dipped 0.34% while the S&P/ASX 200 in Australia declined 0.31%.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan traded 0.28% lower.

Chinese trade data for April is set to be out later on Monday. The data comes as mainland China continues to battle its worst Covid outbreak since early 2020, with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday emphasizing for the country to stick to its “dynamic zero-Covid” policy.

“It is unclear how quickly China will pivot towards living with COVID,” Tapas Strickland, an economist at National Australia Bank, wrote in a Monday note. “As for data, it is expected to take a backseat given lockdowns/enhanced restrictions in many parts of the country.”

Markets in Hong Kong are closed today for a holiday.

Currencies

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 103.767 following a recent jump from levels below 103.2.

The Japanese yen traded at 130.79 per dollar, weaker as compared with levels below 129 seen against the greenback last week. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7041 after last week’s drop from above $0.721.

Oil prices were lower in the morning of Asia trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures slipping 0.6% to $111.72 per barrel. U.S. crude futures declined 0.67% to $109.04 per barrel.

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