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Asian Equities Mixed; China, Hong Kong Underperform as Syria Concerns Weigh

Asian equities were mixed in afternoon trade on Monday

Investing.com – Asian equities were mixed in afternoon trade on Monday, with Mainland Chinese markets and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index underperforming their regional peers as traders digested the impact of the U.S.-led strikes on Syria.

U.S. President Donald Trump declared “mission accomplished” via Twitter over the weekend, a day after the U.S., France and Britain launched 105 missiles that reportedly targeted three chemical weapons facilities in Syria.

Despite easing trade tension between the U.S. and China in recent weeks, the Shanghai Composite and the Shenzhen Component were under pressure on Monday, sliding 1.3% and 0.8% respectively by 1:30PM ET (05:30 GMT). Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index also fell 1.7%.

"[T]here is some evidence that both sides have somewhat backed down slightly after [Chinese President] Xi [Jinping] championed free trade at Boao Forum and Trump expressed optimism that a trade deal might eventually be agreed," Mizuho Bank economist Zhu Huani said.

Reports that China and Japan agreed to work together to push North Korea to give up its nuclear program caught some attention, as the move showed sign of improved cooperation between the two countries.

“To get North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons and missiles in a complete, irreversible and verifiable way, we agreed we must enforce the relevant Security Council resolutions and work closely together,” Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono told reporters on Sunday after a meeting with Chinese counterpart Wang Yi.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 extended its morning gain and traded 0.3% higher.

Although not a directional driver, “tens of thousands” of people reportedly joined a protest in Japan on Saturday and called the country’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe a “liar” and requested his resignation, following fresh scandal over deployments of Japanese soldiers to Iraq from 2004 to 2006.

Elsewhere, South Korea’s KOSPI were little changed throughout the day. Samsung Electronics (KS:005930) made headlines after its unit Samsung SDS Co Ltd (KS:018260) said it is considering a blockchain ledger system that could potentially cut shipping cost by 20%.

Investors’ attentions now turn to the economic calendar later this week, as China is due to report its first-quarter GDP, as well as its March retail sales and industrial output data. Japanese trade and inflation figures, and Australian jobs data are also due later this week.

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