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

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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 nearly 2%, leading losses among the region’s major markets as shares of Fast Retailing dropped more than 5%. The Topix index shed 1.32%.

Mainland Chinese stocks reversed earlier losses, and the Shanghai Composite traded slightly higher by 0.32% while the Shenzhen Component rose 0.48%.

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.”

Elsewhere, South Korea’s Kospi dipped 0.86% while the S&P/ASX 200 in Australia declined 1.56%.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan traded 0.78% lower.

“We’ve cautioned about getting too bearish,” Steve Brice, chief investment officer at Standard Chartered Wealth Management, told CNBC’s “Street Signs Asia” on Monday.

“If you look at indicators … from a market perspective, that bearishness is coming through as well, and that’s usually a buying opportunity,” said Brice. “I know there’s a lot of challenges out there … in terms of the inflation outlook, but you know, the markets are already pricing in very, very sharp monetary policy tightening. At some point we will find a bottom.”

Markets in Hong Kong are closed today for a holiday.

Oil drops 1%

Oil prices were lower in the morning of Asia trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures slipping 0.2% to $112.17 per barrel. U.S. crude futures declined 0.36% to $109.37 per barrel.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 103.901 following a recent jump from levels below 103.2.

The Japanese yen traded at 130.78 per dollar, weaker as compared with levels below 129 seen against the greenback last week. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7026 after last week’s drop from above $0.721.

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