Nikkei at Month High, Asia Mostly Advances

Japan's Nikkei share average touched a near three-week high on Monday with broader investor risk sentiment improving after centrist Emmanuel Macron took a step towards the French presidency after the weekend's voting.

The Nikkei 225 in Japan leaped 255.13 points, or 1.4%, to end Monday at 18,875.88, its highest since April 5

Shares of exporters advanced as the safe-haven yen fell sharply against the dollar on the results of the French presidential election's first round. Firms related to the defence industry also rose on lingering North Korea tensions.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index advanced 97.46 points, or 0.4%, to 24,139.48

Macron won 23.7% of the votes in the first round of the election on Sunday while National Front leader Le Pen reportedly secured 21.7%.

In corporate news, Hong Kong jeweler Chow Tai Fook's acquisition of Australian utilities company Alinta Energy was approved by Foreign Investment Review Board in Australia. Investors had been watching if regulators would clear the deal after Chinese investment in Australian electricity grid Ausgrid was blocked last August. Chow Tai Fook shares were lower by 1.5%.

The U.S. dollar, however, was stronger against the safe-haven yen and off the 108 handle seen in the last two weeks. Dollar/yen last traded at 110.19. The risk-sensitive Australian dollar traded at $0.7559 U.S.

Geopolitical tensions in the Korean peninsula took a backseat even though tension continued to ramp up. Over the weekend, North Korea arrested an American citizen in Pyongyang and indicated that it was prepared to sink a U.S. aircraft carrier.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also spoke with U.S. President Donald Trump about North Korea over the phone earlier today, with a separate call between Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping also held.

CHINA
The CSI 300 in Shanghai lost 35.33 points, or 1%, to 3,431.38, its worst performance of the year.

Losses in stock indexes on the mainland come after Chinese media stated that the government would endure greater levels of volatility as regulators tackled shadow banking

In other markets

In Taiwan, the Taiex index eked up 0.54 points to 9,717.95

The Kospi Index in Korea picked up 8.7 points, or 0.4%, to 2,173.74

In Singapore, the Straits Times Index eked higher 4.2 points, or 0.1%, to 3,144.03

In New Zealand, the NZX 50 rose 25.72 points, or 0.4%, to 7,222.94

In Australia, the ASX 200 index progressed 17.64 points, or 0.3%, to 5,871.78