TOKYO, April 28 (Reuters) – Asian shares began the week under a cloud on Monday, after a dismal week on Wall Street and against the backdrop of increasing tension in Ukraine.
Pro-Russian rebels paraded European monitors they are holding in eastern Ukraine on Sunday, freeing one but saying they had no plans to release another seven as the United States and Europe prepared new sanctions against Moscow. (Full Story)
The leader of detained monitors said on Sunday that all in group were in good health, but they were anxious to be allowed to go home soon. (Full Story)
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS was down 0.1 percent in early trade.
Japan’s Nikkei stock average .N225 opened down 0.9 percent, despite data released before the market opened showing retail sales rose in March at their fastest pace in 17 years ahead of a sales tax hike. (Full Story)
Caution ahead of central bank meetings this week, as well as key U.S. jobs data on Friday, also kept investors wary.
Federal Reserve policymakers will meet on Tuesday and Wednesday and are expected to unanimously decide to continue tapering the central bank’s massive bond-buying stimulus for now. Policymakers were expected to hotly debate future actions, such as what economic conditions would set the stage for a rate hike. (Full Story)
“With the steady improvement in U.S. labor data, there exists a very small tail risk of a more hawkish lean,” strategists at Citi wrote in a note to clients.
The Bank of Japan will release new economic projections following its meeting on Wednesday.
The BOJ will likely keep its inflation forecast for fiscal 2015 roughly unchanged from the current 1.9 percent, and is also set to estimate fiscal 2016 inflation close to 2 percent, signalling that it is optimistic of achieving sustained price rises over a longer time frame, sources have told Reuters. (Full Story)
Tokyo markets will be closed for a holiday on Tuesday.
On Wall Street on Friday, the three main U.S. stock indexes all fell for both the session and the week, as disappointing earnings from Amazon and Ford on Thursday and the rising Ukraine tensions sapped sentiment.
Investors in Asia will also keep a close eye on China’s yuan, after it hit a 16-month low for the third straight day on Friday. (Full Story)
Major currency pairs remained locked in recent ranges, with the heightened Ukraine crisis bolstering the safe-haven yen.