Markets

Asia-Pacific Stocks Mixed as Investors Monitor Ukraine Situation

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  • Shares in Asia-Pacific were mixed on Thursday.
  • January employment data released Thursday showed Australia adding 12,900 jobs for that month, above market forecasts for a flat outcome, according to Reuters.
  • NATO on Wednesday accused Russia of increasing the number of troops it has gathered at the Ukrainian border, a day after Moscow claimed it had begun withdrawing some of its military units.

SINGAPORE — Stocks in Asia-Pacific were mixed on Thursday as investors continued to monitor the situation surrounding Ukraine.

The Nikkei 225 in Japan closed 0.83% lower at 27,232.87 while the Topix index shed 0.79% to 1,931.24.

Japan's January exports came in far below expectations, with official data released Thursday showing a 9.6% year-on-year rise for that month. That was against expectations by economists for a 16.5% gain, according to Reuters.

Mainland Chinese stocks finished the trading day higher, with the Shanghai composite rising fractionally to 3,468.04 and the Shenzhen component climbing 0.348% to 13,422.90. The Hang Seng index in Hong Kong hovered above the flatline, as of its final hour of trading.

Elsewhere, South Korea's Kospi gained 0.53% to finish its trading day at 2,744.09.

Shares in Australia rose on the day, with the S&P/ASX 200 up 0.16% to 7,296.20.

Australia added 12,900 jobs for January, data released Thursday showed. That was above market forecasts for a flat outcome, according to Reuters. The country's unemployment rate held steady at 4.2%, according to figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in line with expectations from a Reuters poll.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan climbed 0.38%.

Investors continued to monitor Russia-Ukraine tensions, as NATO on Wednesday accused Russia of increasing the number of troops it has gathered at the Ukrainian border — a day after Moscow claimed it had begun withdrawing some of its military units.

 A senior Biden administration official told reporters that as many as 7,000 troops have joined the 150,000 already near the border in recent days, according to a NBC News report.

Travel stocks in Singapore rise

Travel stocks in Singapore rose in Thursday trade, after the country's authorities announced Wednesday plans to allow quarantine-free travel for all vaccinated visitors when the omicron wave has passed.

Shares of Singapore Airlines gained 1.31%, while Sats jumped 2.17%.

The broader Straits Times index in Singapore also saw gains, rising 0.41% as of 3:10 p.m. local time.

Oil partially recovers

Oil prices cut losses but remained in negative territory during the afternoon of Asia trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures 1.2% lower at $93.67 per barrel. U.S. crude futures shed 1.16% to $92.57 per barrel. Both crude benchmarks had earlier fallen more than 2% each.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 95.88 after seeing an earlier low of 95.749.

The Japanese yen traded at 115.27 per dollar, stronger than levels above 115.6 seen against the greenback yesterday. The Australian dollar was at $0.719, off an earlier high of $0.7215.

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