Asian shares declined on Monday in morning session amid escalating geopolitical tension over Ukraine and after data showed Chinese manufacturing dropped to an eight-month low.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index slid 1.2% to 136 as of 9:51 a.m. in Hong Kong. Japan’s Topix index lost 2.2% as the yen rose 0.5% to 101.33 per dollar.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index fell 0.7% and New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index declined 0.1%. South Korea’s Kospi index dropped 1.1%, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index slid 0.9%.
China’s Shanghai Composite Index added 0.1%, while Singapore’s Straits Times Index declined 1%. Taiwan’s Taiex Index lost 1.1%.
A crisis in Ukraine has deteriorated as Russian President Vladimir Putin won parliamentary backing to send troops into its southern neighbour. The US, the UK and Canada are suspending preparations for a meeting of the Group of Eight industrial nations in Russia in June.
US Secretary of State John Kerry said he is preparing to visit Kiev as Russia seized control of Ukraine’s Crimea region, intensifying one of the most serious standoffs since the Cold War ended.
In China, Purchasing Managers’ Index declined to 50.2, the lowest since June, the National Bureau of Statistics and China Federation of Logistics & Purchasing said 1 March in Beijing.
In corporate news, BHP Billiton Ltd. (BHP), the world’s largest mining firm, fell 1.2% in Sydney as raw-materials shares posted the largest drop among the regional index’s 10 industry groups.
Speco Co., a South Korean defense contractor, rose 1.2% in Seoul after the defense ministry said North Korea fired two short-range missiles off the country’s east coast today.
Mazda Motor Corp., an automaker that gets 73% of sales overseas, tumbled 4.5% in Tokyo as the yen touched an almost one-month high against the dollar.