Asian shares retreated while investors flocked to safe haven assets such as bonds and gold on Thursday, spooked by a Russian troop build-up on the border with Ukraine and tit-for-tat economic sanctions between the West and Moscow.
Sentiment soured further in Asia after the Australian dollar, seen as a barometer of risk appetite, sank after Australia’s unemployment rate jumped unexpectedly to a 12-year high, sparking talk of an interest rate cut there.
Japan’s Nikkei average fell 0.2 percent while MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan dropped 0.3 percent. “We had negative factors when investors had already felt that stocks are a bit risky because they are supported by expectations of easy monetary policy rather than a strong economy,” said Akito Fukunaga, chief yen bond strategist at Barclays in Tokyo.
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