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Asian Markets Mixed After Lackluster Session on Wall Street

Asian markets were mixed after a lacklustre session on Wall Street, fuelled by profit-taking ahead of this week’s policy meeting of the Federal Reserve and on worries that the United States government is moving toward a protectionist approach to trade.

Chinese stocks eased after dropping for two days, with Wall Street’s losses making investors nervous ahead of a meeting of the US central bank’s policymakers on Tuesday and Wednesday and the first of several meetings this year to decide the size of its balance sheet.

China’s main index ended 0.3% lower after earlier falling as much as 1.3%. But the MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan edged 0.1% higher.

South Korea’s Kospi edged lower, despite a slight uptick in Samsung Electronics, as the tech giant shed 0.5% following the arrest of its heir apparent, Lee Jae-yong, over corruption allegations.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was also almost unchanged in thin trade as financials gained on firm broker recommendations.

South Korea’s economy grew more than expected in the first quarter of the year, thanks to robust household spending and exports. Data from the Bank of Korea on Monday showed gross domestic product expanded 1.3% in the first three months of the year from the previous quarter, beating the 0.9% rise expected in a Bloomberg News survey.

Singapore’s Straits Times Index, traded little changed with the benchmark palm oil futures making a small gain, while the broader MSCI Asia-Pacific Index traded 0.2% higher.

“With central banks around the world (and) other central banks likely to follow the Federal Reserve in removing monetary stimulus (in the coming years), monetary conditions could remain a focal point for investors,” said Dennis Suh, general manager of e-Trading at CMC Markets.

The Spanish court decision also weighed on sentiment in Spain on Monday, which led to weakness in the country’s bond markets, as the central bank voiced opposition to Catalan attempts to unilaterally declare independence.

Later on Monday, U.S. president Donald Trump is set to hold a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore. More fallout could come from an inquiry on Russia’s role in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

On Monday, shares in Germany’s Airbus SE fell on news that investigators have opened a probe into the world’s largest planemaker’s use of secret customer information in its sales contracts.

The stocks ended 2.1% lower.

In Japan, shares rose slightly as banks led gains. The Nikkei 225 Stock Average edged 0.6% higher, pushing into the positive zone on the week, but remained shy of the 25,000-point milestone.

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