Geopolitics Take Back Seat as Asia Closes Mixed

Asian shares were mixed in Tuesday trade as geopolitical tensions took a backseat following a failed missile test by North Korea at the weekend and as U.S. Vice President Mike Pence continues his tour of Asia.

The Nikkei 225 in Japan moved higher 63.33 points, or 0.4%, to 18,418.59, as the U.S. dollar gained against the yen.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index returned from a long weekend to dump 337.12 points, or 1.4%, to 23,924.54

The U.S. dollar/yen pairing traded at 109.02, off the lows around the 108 level seen in the previous session. Major Japanese bank stocks made gains, trading higher by more than 2% across the board earlier in the session. Mizuho Financial led gains in the sector and ended trade higher by 1.1% to close at 191.1 yen a share.

Pence met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the second leg of his tour of the region, where he said the U.S. would work with its allies in dealing with North Korea.

In South Korea, Tech stocks were among the best performers, with chip manufacturer SK Hynix trading higher by 2% to finish the session at 50,200 won a share. Defense stocks also made gains, with Korea Aerospace surging 5.8% to close at 60,300 won a share.

Also, former President Park Geun-hye was indicted for bribery yesterday.

Australian markets reopened after the long weekend, but fell. Major miners finished notably lower, with Fortescue Metals closing 7.5% down at $5.09 U.S. a share.

The Australian dollar was weaker at $0.7554 U.S, off the $.076 handle seen at the beginning of this month. The Korean won traded near a one-week low, with the greenback fetching 1,141.95 won.

CHINA

The CSI 300 in Shanghai slumped 17.19 points, or 0.5%, to 3,462.63

Ant Financial upped its offer for MoneyGram International after a rival offer was made by Euronet Worldwide. Ant's revised offer stands at $18 U.S. per share, totaling $1.2 billion U.S. The board of MoneyGram has approved the offer but the deal will first need to be cleared by the Committee on Foreign Investment

Housing prices in China rose 0.6% in March from February despite government curbs. Property stocks were lower on the mainland but mixed in Hong Kong markets.

In other markets

In Taiwan, the Taiex index recovered 30.16 points, or 0.3%, to 9,746.56

The Kospi Index in Korea acquired 2.7 points, or 0.1%, to 2,148.46

In Singapore, the Straits Times Index dropped 0.76 points to 3,137.54

In New Zealand, the NZX 50 returned from Easter holiday by gaining 3.81 points, or 0.1%, to 7,233.61

In Australia, the ASX 200 index tumbled 53.21 points, or 0.9% -- also after a long weekend – to 5,836.74.