Asian Shares Decline On Concerns Over Middle East Tensions

Asian stocks fell in cautious trading on Monday amid fears that the Israel-Hamas war could spark a wider conflict in the oil-rich region.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office today denied reports of a ceasefire in Gaza that would enable aid to enter and foreigners to flee to Egypt, 10 days into the war with Hamas.

The dollar index was down slightly ahead of a slew of U.S. economic data and Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell’s speech due this week.

Gold fell more than 1 percent after recent sharp gains, while crude prices were a tad lower after soaring nearly 6 percent on Friday.

Chinese shares closed lower after reports of tighter U.S. curbs on technology exports to China and ahead of GDP, retail sales and industrial production data due this week.

The downside remained capped after the People’s Bank of China ramped up liquidity support to shore up a wobbly economy. The central bank rolled over medium-term policy loans while keeping the interest rate unchanged.

China’s Shanghai Composite Index dropped 0.5 percent to 3,073.81, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index slumped 1.0 percent to 17,640.36.

Japanese shares led regional losses as tensions in the Middle East escalated and investors looked ahead to the release of inflation data this week for directional cues.

The Nikkei 225 Index tumbled 2.0 percent to 31,659.03, while the broader Topix Index settled 1.6 percent lower at 2,273.54. Chip-related shares succumbed to selling pressure, tracking declines in the U.S. peers on Friday.

Advantest, Tokyo Electron and Screen Holdings lost 4-5 percent. Technology start-up investor SoftBank ended down a little over 2 percent.

Lawson rallied 2.3 percent and Ryohin Keikaku soared 8.9 percent on encouraging earnings news.

Seoul stocks ended notably lower, with the Kospi falling 0.8 percent to 2,436.24 following reports that Israel is preparing for a ground offensive into the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. Samsung Electronics, LG Energy Solution and LG Chem shed 1-3 percent.

Australian markets ended with modest losses as investors awaited the minutes of the Reserve Bank of Australia’s (RBA) October meeting, scheduled for Tuesday, to gauge the outlook for interest rates.

The benchmark S&P ASX 200 Index ended down 0.4 percent at 7,026.50, with tech stocks leading losses. The broader All Ordinaries Index slipped 0.4 percent to 7,214.60.

Across the Tasman, New Zealand’s benchmark S&P NZX-50 Index fell 0.7 percent to 11,185.08 after the country elected a center-right government.

Fletcher Building shares plunged 11.6 percent despite the construction materials maker denying claims that plumbing failures reported in several homes in Australia were due to a manufacturing defect in the pipes it produced.

U.S. stocks fell broadly on Friday as data showed a slump in consumer sentiment and a surge in inflation expectations.

Surging crude prices on fears about an escalating war in the Middle East also spooked markets.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite lost 1.2 percent and the S&P 500 shed half a percent, with a decrease in Treasury yields helping limit the downside to some extent. The Dow inched up 0.1 percent after strong bank earnings.

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