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Major Asian stock indices slide

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Major Asian stock indices edged lower on Wednesday. China's Shanghai Composite and Shenzhen Composite Indices fell by 2% and 1.76% respectively. Hong Kong's main Hang Seng index lost 2.4%. At the same time, the Japanese and Australian indicators gained 0.7% and 1.16% respectively. Today, the Korean stock exchange is closed. Yesterday, South Korea's KOSPI advanced.

Yesterday's statement by the US President on a ban on US imports of Russian oil and gas had a negative impact on the markets. Investors are pessimistic due to growing risks of possible energy shortages, which in turn could lead to another spike in oil prices and even higher inflation.

The sanctions imposed by European countries and the United States against Russia have an adverse effect on their economies as they create disruptions to supplies and transportation.

Investor sentiment is also hurt by internal statistics for the region. Thus, Japan's GDP rose by 4.6% on an annual basis and by 1.1% on a quarter-on-quarter basis (in the fourth quarter of 2021), lower than economists' median forecast for 5.6% and 1.4% gains.

Among the Japanese listed companies, the top performers turned out to be Isuzu Motors Ltd. (+8.9%), Pacific Metals Co. (+4.5%), and SoftBank Group (+4.6%). Shares of Fast Retailing (+0.4%) and Toyota Motor (+2.5%) also added a little.

At the same time, Sony Group Corp. shares slid by 1%, and Panasonic fell by 2.5%.

In China, the main indicator of inflation - the consumer price index - rose by 0.9% in the previous month from a year ago and by 0.6% on a monthly basis. At the same time, analysts expected an increase of 0.3% month-on-month. The producer price index dropped to 8.8% last month from 9.1% in January on an annual basis, while economists predicted a 8.7% decline.

Among companies listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange, the worst-performing stocks were Li Ning Co. (-9.6%), Anta Sports Products Ltd. (-8.7%), Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing Ltd. (-6%), as well as China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. and China Mengniu Dairy Co. (-5.2% and -4.8% respectively).

As for Australian companies, Mesoblast shares were up by 17%. Shares of other companies showed losses: BHP slid by 0.1%, Rio Tinto fell by 0.5%, South32 Ltd. declined by 1.6%, and Alumina Ltd. lost 1.5%.


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