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Asia-Pacific stocks down as Ukraine crisis continues

Ukraine crisis

Nikkei 225 dropped 1.94%, Topix index shed 2.05%, Shanghai composite fell 0.41%, Shenzhen component declined 1.251%, and Hang Seng index shed 1.07%

Shares in Asia-Pacific mostly tumbled in Wednesday trade as the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict continued to lead to a surge in oil prices.

The Nikkei 225 in Japan dropped 1.94% while the Topix index shed 2.05%.

Mainland Chinese stocks were also lower, with the Shanghai composite down 0.41% while the Shenzhen component declined 1.251%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index shed 1.07%.

Meanwhile, South Korea’s Kospi sat fractionally higher.

Elsewhere, Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.11% on the back of positive economic data. Economic activity in Australia rose 3.4% in the fourth quarter from the third, according to data released Wednesday by the country’s Bureau of Statistics. That was above expectations in a Reuters poll for a 3% gain.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan shed 0.53%.

Oil prices continued their upward trek in the afternoon of Asia trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures up 4.43% to $109.62 per barrel. U.S. crude futures also saw big gains, rising 4.48% to $108.04 per barrel. Brent briefly climbed as high as $111.09 per barrel earlier, its highest in more than 7 years.

That’s despite the International Energy Agency saying Tuesday it will release 60 million barrels of oil from global reserves, in a bid to ease the current supply constraint.

Oil prices have surged in recent days as Russia continued its assault on Ukraine, with U.S. crude futures hitting its highest level in seven years on Tuesday.

Overnight in the US, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 597.65 points to 33,294.95 while the S&P 500 shed 1.55% to 4,306.26. The Nasdaq Composite declined 1.59% to 13,532.46.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 97.437 after a recent climb from levels below 97.

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