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Asian Equities Mixed; Abe Took Responsibility Over Land Sale Scandal

Asian equities were mixed in afternoon trade on Monday

Investing.com – Asian equities were mixed in afternoon trade on Monday. Personnel changes in China’s government and the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) gathered attention as Yi Gang, a vice governor of the PBOC, has been nominated to replace Zhou Xiaochuan as the head of the Chinese central bank, according to parliament delegates. Investors’ focus now turns to Jerome Powell’s first meeting as chairman at the Federal Reserve on Wednesday.

Trade tensions between China and the U.S. remained in focus after U.S. Treasury official David Malpass said he “misspoke” the U.S. was pulling out of decade-old formal economic talks with Beijing.

“Secretary Mnuchin has high-level talks with China,” said Malpass, adding that the department has “private” conversations with senior officials in China.

In Wall Street, the S&P 500 gained 0.2% on Friday, while the Dow and the Nasdaq added 0.3% and 0.04% respectively.

Japan’s Nikkei slipped 1% at the close. The country’s trade recovery continued as exports grew 1.8% in February, roughly in line with the expected 1.9% increase. However, exports to China, the country’s biggest trading partner, fell 9.7% y/y, as the trade data showed. Reports that Apple is planning to make its own MicroLED displays for the first time was cited as catalyst for the selling in regional technology shares. The yen strengthened after a nationwide survey suggested a decline in support for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s cabinet. Abe denied he had intervened in a land sale to a school operator with ties to his wife but took responsibility for a loss of trust in his government. He told the panel on Monday that he was not aware of the land sale documents’ existence.

Meanwhile, China’s February new home prices rose in 44 cities m/m, compared with 52 in January, data showed. Beijing’s new home prices fell 0.3% m/m. The Shanghai Composite and Shenzhen Component gained 0.1% and 0.4% respectively. Reports that Alibaba said it would invest an additional $2 billion in Southeast Asia-based Lazada Group and replace its chief executive received some focus.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index edged up 0.1%. The city’s richest man Li Ka-shing announced his retirement last Friday. CK Hutchison Holdings Ltd (HK:0001), CK Asset Holdings Ltd (HK:1113) and Power Assets Holdings Ltd (OTC:HGKGY) fell 1.4%, 1.0%, and 1.3% in morning trade on Monday following the news.

Elsewhere, shares of South Korea-listed Hyundai Motor (KS:005380) fell 3.8% after reports that a U.S. regulator said it had opened a probe into the company’s airbag failure following crashes that reportedly killed four people and left six injured.

Singapore-listed Noble Group Ltd (SI:NOBG) made headlines again after it decided not to pay a $379 million bond due Tuesday, which sets the company on course for its first note default.

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