Asia Shares Mixed on Brexit Extension

Major stock markets in Asia closed mixed on Thursday amid geopolitical developments, including European Union leaders and the U.K. agreeing to a "flexible extension" of the Brexit deadline till Oct. 31.

The Nikkei 225 gained 23.81 points, or 0.1%, 21,711.38, as shares of index heavyweight Fast Retailing added 0.5%.

The Japanese yen, widely viewed as a safe-haven currency, traded at 111.14 against the U.S. dollar after seeing an earlier high of 110.89

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index collapsed 280.11 points, or 0.9%, to 29,839.45 Chinese tech giant Tencent’s stock rose more than 1%, earlier crossing the 400 Hong Kong dollar per share mark for the first time since June 2018.

Australian markets floundered somewhat, following Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s announcement that a general election was set for May 18.

The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7158 U.S. after climbing from levels below $0.712 yesterday.

Over in Europe, European Union leaders and the U.K. came to an agreement to extend the Brexit deadline.

Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, said this development provides an “additional six months for the UK to find the best possible solution.”

The emergency summit was convened after U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May requested a further delay to the U.K.’s departure from the bloc. U.K. lawmakers have rejected May’s agreement three times but they’ve also failed to reach a majority in support of alternative options.

CHINA

The CSI 300 in China lost 88.27 points, or 2.2%, to 3,997.58

The moves in China came after the country’s consumer inflation in March touched a five-month high on the back of higher food prices.

On the U.S.-China trade front, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told the media on Wednesday that Washington and Beijing have “pretty much agreed on an enforcement mechanism” for when a deal is struck.

In other markets

In Singapore, the Straits Times Index eked up 3.17 points, or 0.1%, to 3,330.82

Korea’s Kospi Index inched up 0.05 points to 2,224.44

The Taiex Index in Taiwan faded 59.37 points, or 0.6%, to 10,800.77

In New Zealand, the NZX 50 hiked 58.64 points, or 0.6%, to 9,766.60

In Australia, the ASX 200 dropped 24.87 points, or 0.4%, to 6,198.67