(Adds Chinese markets, European markets outlook, updates
* China shares tumble after Xi Jinping comments dash
* Nikkei slumps despite upbeat Japan retail sales data, as
* Major currencies mostly stick to ranges; Ukraine crisis
* Fed, BOJ, U.S. jobs data in focus later this week
By Lisa Twaronite
TOKYO, April 28 Japanese and Chinese stocks
tumbled on Monday in a cautious session for Asian equities amid
increasing tension in Ukraine, which kept risk appetite in check
and helped bolster the safe-haven yen.
Pro-Russian rebels paraded European monitors they are
holding in eastern Ukraine on Sunday, freeing one but saying
they had no plans to release another seven as the United States
and Europe prepared new sanctions against Moscow.
European shares were expected to open slightly higher even
in the face of the rising tensions, with spreadbetters
predicting Britain's FTSE 100 to open as much as 0.15
percent higher, Germany's DAX to gain 0.12 percent and
France's CAC 40 to rise 0.14 percent.
"The bulls may look to retrieve some of the losses from
Friday, but with tension increasing in the Ukraine, you could
understand a cautious approach," Lewis Sturdy, a dealer at
London Capital Group, said in a note to clients.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan
oscillated between positive and negative
territory, and was last trading flat.
The Shanghai Composite Index began the week with a
fourth straight day of losses, down 1.5 percent, after state
media reported President Xi Jinping saying at a politburo
meeting on Friday that current fiscal and monetary policies
would basically remain unchanged.
"If there's no change in basic economic policy then it's
likely there won't be any strong measures, and overall this is
dragging on expectations," said Du Changchun, an analyst at
Northeast Securities in Shanghai.
A stronger yen drove Japan's Nikkei stock average
down 1 percent, despite data released before the market opened
showing retail sales rose in March at their fastest pace in 17
years ahead of a sales tax hike.
"Weaker U.S. equities and the stronger yen is being received
negatively by the domestic stock market. Potential buyers are
also sidelined ahead of tomorrow's public holiday," said Yutaka
Miura, senior technical analyst at Mizuho Securities in Tokyo.
Tokyo markets will be closed for Showa Day on Tuesday, the
birthday of the previous emperor.
Caution ahead of central bank meetings this week, as well as
key U.S. jobs data on Friday, also kept investors wary.
Non-farm payrolls are expected to show an April rise of more
than 200,000, as harsh winter weather finally dissipated and a
later Easter holiday led to extra hiring.
Federal Reserve policymakers will meet on Tuesday and
Wednesday and are expected to unanimously decide to continue
tapering the central bank's massive bond-buying stimulus for
now. Policymakers were expected to hotly debate future actions,
such as what economic conditions would set the stage for a rate
The Bank of Japan will release new economic projections
following its meeting on Wednesday, at which it is expected to
stand pat on policy.
The BOJ will likely keep its inflation forecast for fiscal
2015 roughly unchanged from the current 1.9 percent, and is also
set to estimate fiscal 2016 inflation close to 2 percent,
signalling that it is optimistic of achieving sustained price
rises over a longer time frame, sources have told Reuters.
On Wall Street on Friday, the three main U.S. stock indexes
all fell for both the session and the week, as disappointing
earnings from Amazon and Ford on Thursday and the rising Ukraine
tensions sapped sentiment.
Major currency pairs stuck to recent ranges on Monday, with
the heightened Ukraine crisis bolstering the safe-haven yen.
The dollar was steady on the day at 102.22 yen,
pulling away from a session low of 102.04 yen but still not far
from a one-week trough of 101.96 yen hit on Friday. The euro
dipped about 0.1 percent to 141.29 yen.
Against the greenback, the euro edged down about 0.1 percent
to $1.3823 after it added 0.2 percent last week. That
helped the dollar index gain nearly 0.1 percent to
79.812, after it lost 0.1 percent last week.
In commodities trading, the Ukraine unrest helped push gold
to $1,306.11 an ounce, its highest since April 16, though
it was last down slightly at $1,301.30.
Brent crude gained 0.2 percent to $109.77 a barrel,
buoyed by the rising Ukraine tensions and Libya's delay in
re-opening a damaged eastern port.
Copper climbed 0.1 percent to $6,769.50 a tonne
after touching its highest in seven weeks on Monday on tight
Chinese copper supply, while nickel pushed to its
strongest in almost 15 months in the wake of Indonesia's ban on
(Additional reporting by Shinishi Saoshiro in Tokyo and Natalie
Thomas in Hong Kong; Editing by Shri Navaratanam)