Equities slump as Iraq tension hits sentiment

Caution is ruling markets across the Asia-Pacific, after US stocks fell and investors wait for key Japanese data due later this week, reports FTAdviser sister title FastFT.

Shanghai Composite: -0.4%

Sydney’s S&P/ASX 200: -0.5%

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Tokyo’s Nikkei 225: -0.4%

South Korea’s Kospi: -0.5%

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng:+0.2%

“It is yet another quiet data day in Asia with very little first tier data out,” said Sacha Tihanyi, strategist at Scotiabank.

The broad downward moves follow a weak session in the US, where the S&P 500 slipped 0.6 per cent - its biggest move south in two weeks. Analysts said the selling was related to escalating tension in Iraq, which again pushed up the price of oil, as well as profit taking following a series of record highs.

Brent crude prices finished the US session 0.3 per cent higher at $114.46 per barrel, nearly a 9 month high.

In Tokyo, investors are waiting for upcoming data on how retail sales and consumer price inflation fared in May. Both, due Friday, should give markets a broad sense of how Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s revival plans are going after the national sales tax was lifted from 5 to 8 per cent on April 1.

The main currencies in the region are stable. The Japanese yen is steady at 101.9 per dollar, while the Aussie dollar is up less than 0.1 per cent at $0.9363, after gaining 0.6 per cent overnight.

The Aussie equity market is being weighed down by the mining sector after the price of iron ore fell slightly, ending a five-day recovery.